Most of us don't think about biotechnology very much. We see it as a distant concept, where scientists in white coats titrate substances into beakers and record the results on their computers. We don't realize that we are encountering biotechnology and the results of biotechnology research and developments on a daily basis. Here are some of the everyday uses of biotechnology.
Genetically Modified Food
As the population of the Earth increases, scientists search for ways to feed them all. When naturally occurring crops and food sources aren't enough, they seek to modify them to grow faster, be more resistant to diseases and insects, and produce more food. Many crops of canola, soybeans, cotton, and corn are already genetically modified. You probably have food in your house that has been genetically modified already, as in many places it is classified the same way as natural crops.
Human Genome Project
One of the most ambitious scientific projects to date is actually the precursor to a lot of biotechnology research. By studying the map of human DNA that the genome project provides, biotechnology experts can develop new ways to test for and treat common genetic diseases that you may not even know you are carrying. Those tests that your baby had before it was born were not to see if it would need a rhinoplasty later on, but to see if it had inherited any diseases from you.
We all love to watch crime and forensics shows on TV while we try to figure out our fitness tax credit claims, but did you know that much of what you see on programs like CSI was developed by biotechnologists? The ability to use and profile DNA is a direct application of biotechnology and it could be the means by which a person who has wronged you is caught should you ever have the misfortune to become a victim of crime.
You have probably heard the term before in the context of cleaning up parks or old industrial lands that are now a forest of pollution and old diapers. Bioremediation is a concept developed by biotechnologists in which specifically engineered bacteria, fungi, and other micro-organisms are given the task of cleaning up our mess. They can break down everything from hazardous materials to garbage, leaving the park clean for you to use. Companies like Transway Systems Inc. (www.transwaysystems.com) sell septic (Hydro Vac) trucks to help take sewage away to help clean as well.