The modern biotechnology uses advanced techniques for manipulating DNA to obtain individuals to improve production. It uses genetic engineering to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for different purposes:
- In the agricultural and livestock industry, creating GMOs that:
- Resist pests and droughts.
- Resist low temperatures.
- Resist variations in salinity.
- Get a higher production.
- Produce substances, such as vitamins or proteins, that are not possessed by the unmodified organisms.
- Resist herbicides.
- Produce fruits with delayed ripening.
- Obtaining transgenic food. Cheaper food due to its greater production and with interesting characteristics for human consumption, although there are experts and organizations that oppose its commercialization because they are unaware of the possible effects of these species on the environment and on human health.
- In the pharmaceutical industry, creating GMOs that are capable of creating molecules or substances that they would not generate in a natural way. Thus, antibiotics, hormones, vaccines, and proteins can be obtained that do not cause the rejection effect in the person who receives them.
- In medicine, through:
- Genetic analysis, detecting genetic diseases before they develop (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc.) and being able to prevent and act on them in the beginning.
- Gene therapy, introducing certain genes into the patient to fight certain diseases. They can replace altered genes, inhibit the action of defective genes, or insert new genes.
- Comparison of the DNA of two people for the identification of victims, evidence of paternity or authorship of a crime.
- In the environment, through bioremedication, microorganisms, fungi, plants or the enzymes derived from them are used to return a contaminated environment to its natural condition. GMOs are used to:
- Recover soils contaminated with heavy metals.
- Obtain energy from wastewater in treatment plants.
- Degrade toxic waste, such as oil slicks, where bacteria capable of degrading petroleum hydrocarbons and transforming them into substances that are less harmful to the environment can be used.
- Obtain biodegradable plastics from genetically modified bacteria.
Although sometimes used synonymously, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living beings whose DNA has been artificially modified, while transgenic organisms are referred to as individuals that contain genes from individuals from other species, so they are not synonymous. Foods that contain products from these organisms in their composition are called transgenic foods.
Interactive Activity: Traditional or Modern Biotechnology?