IntroductionBiotechnology is the use of organisms and their products for commercial use. Traditionally, biotechnology has been practiced for a long time. Biotechnology is applied in many fields, for instance, baking bread, brewing of alcoholic beverages, and animal and crop breeding. The recent development of biotechnology is molecular biology. The modern biotechnology has a profound effect on the economy of many countries and the world. An example of biotechnology in the modern world is genetic engineering (Matin, Krattiger and Joachim 321). The term genetic engineering refers to the process of the transfer of individual genes from one organism to another.
In the process, the genes of the organisms are modified, and the desired trait is achieved. The process of biotechnology leads to the production of GMOs and GM crops. The modern type of biotechnology has gained a lot of consumer interest and attention. Consumers tend to look for the negative side of the biotech foods not knowing the economic importance of the process of biotechnology. It is imperative to teach the consumers the good side of the biotech crop. There are various branches of biotechnology like industrial biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, and human applications of biotechnology (Matin, Krattiger and Joachim 321). The paper looks at biotechnology and the effects on the economy.
How modern biotechnology work
All organisms have cells that are made of either DNA or RNA. The cells are programmed to have similar chemical composition. DNA is known to be the primary carrier of characters and is made of nucleotides called Adenine, Guanine, Thymine, and Cytosine. The nucleotides often pair to make the DNA helical strand. The strands are made of segments called genes. The absence or presence of a particular protein in the DNA gives the organism a character or trait. The biotechnologists use specific enzymes to remove and cut a unique segment of the DNA strand and use a carrier, often bacteria to transfer the cut part into another target organisms DNA. The technique is known as recombinant DNA. The segments are combined using a specific enzyme. The technique transfers the desired characters from one organism to another and also eliminates the undesired characters (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1336).
The primary role of biotechnology in the developed countries like the United States is to continue feeding the ever growing population without interfering with the environment. The application of biotechnology is to prevent encroachment into the natural resources like the forests and the parks in an attempt of increasing food supply (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1336). Most consumers are always uncomfortable with the use of the biotech plants due to their perceived side effects. Most surveys conducted in the United States for the past decade has shown that the biotech plants will not become an issue in America. Most of the consumers are slowly finding biotechnology acceptable. Most United States citizens are slowly willing to purchase and use insect-protected foods that are developed through biotechnology. The technique employs the use of fewer chemicals to produce nutritious food. The European consumers are on the contrary as the consumers are less supportive of the biotechnology crops and products (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1336).
Surveys did since the year 1992 showed that few American consumers barely read or heard of biotechnology. In 1997, the news of the cloned sheep pushed biotechnology awareness in the US by 50 percent (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1338). The trend further fell in the year 2000. The unpredictable trend depicts that consumers get the information regarding biotechnology from the media. Most people never understand the biological principles that make them go with the developments. The US Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences have ascertained that the biotech foods are safe for human consumption. The effect is in contrast to the European nations and is critically opposed to the biotech foods (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1336). The European citizens have less trust in government and the industries that deal with foodstuffs. Most of the European citizens reject American foods. The Europeans also protect their small farms so as to preserve open space and employment (Anthony 126). The forces underlie most of Europe’s anxiety about the use of biotechnology especially as it is viewed as the “American invention.”
Most of the industrial workers and leaders are quite optimistic with regards to the benefits of biotechnology. The workers view the technology as an improvement regarding enhanced nutrition, food availability, and protection of the environment. The workers feel that biotechnology is the best solution to food shortage, and it has provided a lasting benefit to the consumers. The primary concern regarding biotechnology is the lack of a positive consumer acceptance and not the safety of the products. In the United States, the researchers have expressed the high level of confidence in biotechnology and its regulatory process (Vàzquez-Salat, Núria et al. 1336). The experts feel that the biotech products should not be labeled separately as the labels are seen as a warning to the consumer. The labeling might also segregate the commodities that would later cause logistical and financial problems to people in the system. The food industry teams recognize a critical need to create awareness to the public about biotechnology. In the United States, for instance, research depicts that consumers accept the biotech foods when they see a perceived benefit to the society and themselves and if the price is okay. The response of the consumers to the biotech food to any food is the same regarding price, taste, nutrition, taste, convenience, and safety. The fear that has been raised by some fraction of the public has made some of the biotech companies to switch their products. For instance, the Healthy Times Natural Food in California has switched from producing Canola oil that is genetically produced to safflower due to varied questions from Greenpeace. What remain obscure are the procedure and chemical substances used, as well as, the side effects of the biotech products (Melinda 81).
Biotechnology is an imperative field that looks to save the world from problems related to hunger and malnutrition. The field of biotechnology is also critical in saving the environment. Governments and various stakeholders should accept the food products obtained from biotechnology as a means of improving the livelihoods of the citizens and to prevent hunger. The future of agriculture lies with biotechnology that must also be regulated to so that the benefits are achieved without the perceived risks.
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