What is Environmental Biotechnology?
Biotechnology applications in food security, agriculture, climate change, and climate mitigation are well known. The industrial
applications of biotechnology are a profitable option for food and agriculture businesses. Moreover, these processes ensure that minimal damage is inflicted upon our environment. Usually, industries spend a huge amount on controlling the aftermaths of conventional industrial production processes but biotechnology ensures that money is saved at the time of production itself.
Environmental Biotechnology utilizes the biochemical potential of microorganisms and plants for the preservation and restoration of the environment. It promotes sustainable and efficient use of natural resources like fungi, plants, algae, and bacteria in the industrial processes. Our biological systems have the capability to absorb and control pollutants like free carbon sources from our environment and keep our surroundings clean and green. Integrated with the industrial processes, it helps in forming a balanced industrial framework that has better efficiency, makes better use of natural resources, and also keeps our environment green. Green manufacturing technologies and sustainable development are the key issues that environmental biotechnology addresses.
In the subsequent sections we will see what the benefits are of integrating biotechnology with our industrial processes.
Benefits of Environmental Biotechnology
The uses and methods of environmental biotechnology applications have many diverse implications and benefits. Biotechnology is constantly being used to help adapt organisms and engineer useful ways to help clean up the environment and keep it green for the future generations. As well as eliminating the use of pollutants and wastes that affect our environment, there is a need to be able to promote and sustain the development of our society with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
All biological processes have a role in the removal of pollutants. Using biotechnology is enabling researchers and scientists to take advantage of this new versatility of organisms to convert and degrade certain compounds. New breakthroughs in methods of biotechnology applications including genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, sequencing and imaging are all producing vast amounts of information. When it comes to the field of environmental microbiology, new studies are beginning to open up to an era of new possibilities and discoveries in the world of biodegradation.
Both changes to the functional and metagenomic approaches are adding to our understanding and knowledge about the importance of having different pathways and types of networks to use in particular environments. Those compounds and will only continue to speed up the bioremediation processes. This process is essential to the improving and preservation efforts to conserve resources and help the environment, as well as protect it from further damage.
It seems as though marine types of environments are especially prone to this kind of occurrence because of the kinds of activities on coastlines such as oil spills. Not only are pollutants from humans a constant source of trouble, but also adding to that are the tons of gallons of petroleum that is entering the marine environment every year and coming from natural sources.
Even though this has a high level of toxicity, a large portion of the petroleum that enters the marine system is being eliminated by the degrading activities caused by microbial sources. Biotechnology applications will continue to have a large impact on the environmental activities and help lessen the concern of degradation that is currently a large problem facing the environment. By using techniques and methods of biotechnology applications, scientists are able to help improve and slow down the degradation process as well as work to preserve the environment and work towards more suitable conservation methods.
Applications of Environmental Biotechnology
Environmental biotechnology finds use in various fields and industries. In this section we have listed certain most popular and commonly practiced applications of environmental biotechnology around us.
- Bio-composting involves combining organic materials under certain controlled conditions that decomposes them at a faster rate than they would decompose under natural conditions in free surroundings.
- Bioenergy – We hear about fuels like biogas, biomass, and hydrogen being used for industrial, domestic, and space exploration purposes. All these fuels belong to the category of Bioenergy. Of late, need of the hour has become finding alternate resources of energy that are clean and equally efficient. Energy generation from organic waste or biomass is the finest example of green energy. These are all ecofriendly solutions to our pollution woes. Biomass energy supply demand balances have become a component of energy sector analysis and planning and assumed greater importance in countries.
- Bioremediation is a clean-up technology that uses naturally occurring microorganisms to degrade hazardous substances into less toxic or nontoxic compounds.
- Bio-Transformation is a process of Biological changes of complex compound to simpler toxic to non-toxic or vice-versa. It is used in manufacturing industries where toxic substances are released as bi-products.
- Biomarker is a biological response to a chemical that gives a measure of exposure and, of toxic effect. Biological markers can provide molecular evidence of the correlation among oils and their sources.
- Harvard Kennedy School, Industrial Biotechnology and International Trade, www.cid.harvard.edu
- United Nations University, Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology, www.ias.unu.edu
- Image: Insulin Hexamer by Isaac Yonemoto, Wikipedia licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license