Like many other applications, biotechnology has one more application that is its use in agriculture. Due to its more use in medicine, it is considered as totally the medical field. But biotechnology has vast approach to agriculture in studying, cloning and altering genes. Now everyone is familiar with the enzymes and they know the controversies spreading because of this field. Genetically modified crops and food are the major issue of biotechnology. But still agricultural biotechnology is producing various varieties of crops and other products to change our lives and making them better.
Oral vaccines are the major vaccines which are in the work in developing countries for many years. They are the possible solution to various diseases. Now genetically modified crops have made it possible that they have developed such crops and foods such as fruits, grains or vegetables that carry the antigenic proteins. These proteins are extracted from the infectious pathogens. These antigens will in turn trigger the immune response when injected in the body. There is an example of specific vaccine for patient for treating the cancer disease. A vaccine called anti-lymphoma has been developed by using tobacco plants which carry RNA from cloned malignant B-cells. As a result the protein produced is used to treat cancer. Tailor-made vaccines are also helpful in treating cancer.
Antibiotic are produced by using plants and are used for both animal and human diseases. Some bioethics is also involved in making antibiotics with plants. Though price of such antibiotics is low but if these are given in animals' feed or fed directly to animals. This may result in many harmful possibilities. People say that these antibiotics if consumed by animals, antibiotic resistant bacterial strain might produce in the animals which do not let the antibiotic to act correctly. But there are several advantages of antibiotics which are produced with plants. They have low cost and efficiently play their part in the organism's body. Antibiotics are useful if made from plants than produced from mammalian cells.
Usually biotechnology is considered as the technology of making vaccines and other drugs or improving food quality but there are some applications of biotech which are totally different from the ones described above. Biotechnology techniques are also used in gene identification and gene transfer. These applications are used to improve the color, size and smell and other features of the flowery plants. Biotech has played its part in making improvements in other ornamental plants especially shrubs and trees. Similar changes are made in crops also like cold resistant enhancement of tropical plant breed. So these plants can also grow in northern gardens.
The bio-fuels industry has strong influence of agricultural industry. Agricultural industry provides stocks of feed for the fermentation process and refining of bio-diesel, bio-oil and bio-ethanol. Biotechnology techniques such as genetic engineering and enzyme optimization are providing good quality of feed stocks to make good biofuels.
Pest resistant crops:-
A microbe, Bacillus thuringiensis used for many years to dust crops by producing toxic proteins against insects. European corn borer was one of the toxins used to dust crops. To get rid of the need of dusting the crops, scientists developed transgenic corn which expressed Bt protein. Then Bt potato and cotton were produced. Bt protein is not harmful for humans and transgenic crops make it possible for scientists to avoid costly infestations.
Plant and Animal Breeding:-
First traditional methods were used to enhance plant and animal traits like cross pollination, cross breeding and grafting. But all these methods were very time consuming. Biotechnology has made it possible to enhance plant and animal traits at molecular level by over expression of genes, deletion of genes or inserting foreign genes into the organisms. Introduction of foreign genes come under the technique of gene expression control mechanisms. Such mechanisms are specific gene promoters and transcription factors. Marker assistant selection helps to improve the animal breeding efficiency.
In under-developed countries where there is shortage of food and basic needs of life. Scientists have made genetically modified food which is rich of nutrients to help people to fight against diseases and malnourishment. One of the examples of nutritious food is golden rice. This kind of rice contains beta carotene which is a major source of providing Vitamin A to the body. Deficiency of Vitamin A results in partial or total blindness. Golden rice was developed by using two genes from daffodils and one from a bacterium. These three genes were able to catalyze four biochemical reactions. The name golden rice was kept due to the color of the grain because of excessive beta carotene. Beta carotene also dives orange color to carrots and they are also good for eyes.
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