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 Biotechnology- Boon or Curse

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The term “biotechnology” was coined in 1919 by Karl Ereky, a Hungarian engineer.According to EFB (European Federation of Biotechnology, biotechnology refers to “The integration of natural science and organisms, cells, parts thereof, and molecular analogues for products and services.” It deals with techniques of using live organisms or enzymes from organisms to produce products and processes useful to humans. It has led us into a sudden new biological revolution. It has brought us to the brink of a world of “engineered” products that are derived from the natural world rather than on chemical and industrial processes. It has also led to crop genetic diversity. Crop genetic diversity is not just a raw material for industrial agriculture; it is the key to food security, and sustainable agriculture because it enables farmers to adapt crops suited to their own site specific ecological needs and cultural traditions. Biotechnology has been described as “Janus-faced.” This implies that there are two sides.

On one, techniques allow DNA to be manipulated to move genes from one organism to another. On the other, it involves relatively new technologies whose consequences are untested and should be met with caution. Many traditional biotechnologies are uncontroversial, such as the fermentation of microorganisms to produce wine, beer, and cheese. But genetic engineering, a powerful new technology that involves the artificial transfer of genes across species lines, has provoked intense public interest and scrutiny. Despite its many benefits, genetic engineering has caused concern among some people. Some oppose genetic engineering because they fear that harmful, uncontrollable bacteria might be produced accidentally.

Others worry about possible environmental damage by the deliberate introduction of organisms whose heredity has been altered. An analysis on Bt brinjal resulted that 99.9 per cent of edible GM foods were designed to contain toxic pesticides whose effect on the human body and the environment were not known. Bt brinjal has been modified to produce an unknown toxic insecticide and the variety will create resistance to antibiotics. To those who see in biotechnology a process that can considerably help feed a hungry, burgeoning world, biotechnology is a “God-given gift.”But it may also lead to destruction of earth.

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