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Biotech Applications in Livestock and Medicine

BY: Gayathri Raghavan | Category: Biotechnology-products | Submitted: 2013-03-12 23:09:07
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Article Summary: "The rare blend of biotechnology and genetic engineering has given rise to many products among which genetically modified (GM) foods have gained a concrete foothold in the food market today. The demand for dairy and meat products has reached immeasurable heights..."

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The rare blend of biotechnology and genetic engineering has given rise to many products among which genetically modified (GM) foods have gained a concrete foothold in the food market today. The demand for dairy and meat products has reached immeasurable heights in the past decade predominantly due to the rise in prosperity in developing nations such as India and China, whose large population existed on vegetables, fruits, and grains. This, in turn, has instigated a revolution in livestock in the meat industry, with abattoirs, ranchers, and farmers changing the method and way of bringing meat to the market.

Livestock and Biotechnology

Historically, meat products have always been expensive. For example, it takes more resources, land, and above all time to raise a cow than the time and resources taken to grow a corn bushel. Thus, people across the globe were able to consume meat only rarely.

Now, since things have changed dramatically, more number of people are able to afford meat allowing cattle farmers to raise more animals on limited land. This has resulted in intense livestock-breeding process; example, factory farms, called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), has replaced poultry farms. Turkeys, pigs, veal calves, and other livestock are now raised in CAFOs. The intense process is similar for cattle too.

Bovine Growth Hormone

The Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), also called as bovine somatotropin (BST), is a protein produced in cow's pituitary glands. The hormone can also be generated in artificially using a DNA that contains genetically engineered E.coli bacterium; in this case the hormone is known as rBST or rBGH. Many agricultural giants have been producing and marketing rBGH, which increases the production of milk in cows thereby preventing death of the mammary cells. There are certain evidences to prove that antibiotics are passed to humans from the milk (of treated cows).


Considered a modern-day miracle, antibiotics are a boon in disguise. They destroy microorganism, especially bacteria, cure sickness, and also prevent millions from dying fatal diseases. Antibiotics works wonders on animals too. Since the early 1990s, cattle are administered antibiotics by farmers and ranchers. On the whole, 60 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are administered to cows, chickens, and pigs to prevent diseases that are caused by certain CAFO practices such as acidosis and mastitis.


Pig meat comes in the form of bacon, pork, and ham and is a rich source of protein. However, adult pig contains phosphorus that is a potential environment pollutant. Nevertheless, pig farming in on a high scale in China as a part of the livestock revolution. Geneticists at the Canadian University of Guelph have developed the Enviropig to counter the problem.

Medicine and Biotechnology

Healing science is known as medicine. Biotechnology has succeeded in bringing medicine our from the potions age into the genetic manipulation era. Fatal diseases can be cured by manipulating the DNA of a person. Most people would hope that DNA manipulation could cure diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Healing and tampering differ in their own terms. Over the years, scientists have unlocked the secrets of human genome and have learned on how to manipulate DNA sequences in order to modify almost everything from memory skills to hair color. The primary idea behind this was to allow people experience better health and live a longer life.


Since the arrival of synthetic human insulin, the first-ever bioengineered medicine, in 1982, more than 200 such medicines have undergone rigorous testing and succeeded in entering the market. The recombinant DNA technology that is growing rapidly had showed great potential in vaccine development that could possible prevent diseases, which still continue to devastate the world.

Diabetes treatment requires insulin shots. Insulin hormone is produced by the pancreas, which allows body cell's to derive blood glucose and store it in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver. As history would say it, insulin derived from pigs, fish, horses, or cows were administered to diabetic patients. The Humulin, the first- ever genetically engineered medication, was generated by the insertion of human DNA into a host cell. Humulin proved to be invaluable as time progressed.

The science of pharmocogenics combines proteomics and genomics leading customized treatments for individuals thereby eliminating the trail-error process in finding optimal medication dosages.

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