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How Biotech and Genetics Will Power the World in the Next Century

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Every human on the planet has dreamed to achieve the unthinkable. When we watch superhero movies, we always fantasize to be like them. Humans like to think that they are the ultimate species existing on the planet and it is true because we have some unique characteristics like self-consciousness which only limited species on the planet have. To achieve the goal of super human, I look forward to Genetics and Biotechnology.

Genetics is the study of Genes and Biotechnology is the application of Genetics (among many) for Human Welfare.

Every human being on this planet is made up of numerous cells and each cell contains the DNA in its nucleus. It is a fact that everyone of us study in our text-books. The DNA consists of small units called genes that govern the structure and functions of the human body. For example, If the color of your eye is Blue and your friend’s is black, then it is due to the variation in the genes. You have a gene for blue eye color whereas your friend has a gene for black eye color.

Now, imagine if you wanted black eye color and your friend wanted blue eyes, You might think it is impossible because you just don’t have the genes that code for black eyes and your friend doesn’t have the genes for blue eyes. But, today scientists are able to modify the genetic code to make desired expressions. As of now, it is restricted to be tried on Humans due to ethical reasons. But in the next century (due to the rapid progress in the field of genetics, it would not be surprising to say ‘in another 30-40 years’) we will be able to modify the genetic code of human neings.

The Human Genome Unravelled

By modifying the genetic code of humans, we can do many wonders to our species. A few of them are listed below.

  1. Treatment to genetic disorders can be carried out using Gene Therapy wherein a defective gene (which cannot express) is replaced by a therapeutic gene (which expresses normally). In this context, I would like to highlight Insulin. Insulin is a hormone that maintains the glucose levels in the body. For patients suffering from diabetes, Insulin is absent due to a defect in the gene that produces insulin. Today, Insulin is artificially manufactured by expressing the gene in vectors (mostly microbes) and then extracting the product (insulin). It is then taken as an injection. But in the future, doctors will insert the therapeutic gene into cells of diabetes and insulin is produced in their body throughout their life. There is then no need for injections and spending extra money on buying insulin.
  2. Production of Drugs: A large number of drugs (with minimal or no side-effects) can be produced by cloning genes that produce them in bacteria.
  3. Production of Disease Resistant Crops: Farmers and agriculturists will be hugely benefited by the genetically modified crops (a.k.a. GM Crops) that are resistant to pests and diseases. Such crops will output a better yield and hopefully the problem of malnutrition can be curbed in under-developed countries. Also, the use of fertilizers and harmful chemical to kill pests will be minimized.
  4. Conservation of Animals: It is true that we can clone animals. Sir Ian Wilmut has achieved this feat when he cloned Dolly, the sheep. If we could clone endangered species, then they will be conserved.
  5. The Super Human Concept: A concept has been fantasized by the scientific community that proposes the development of a Super Human. It is a genetically modified human being that has all dominant features, like extensive musculature, superior resistance to diseases, high IQ, high stamina etc. that we only see in movies. However, ethical reasons and the possible abuse is preventing action towards this concept.

That’s it. Now you know five ways in which Genetics and Biotechnology can power the world in the next century. All you have to do is fantasize and it can be achieved through genetics.

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About Amitash

  • There are things to consider in Genetics/DNA:
    (1) What unintended consequences arise from
    altering genes?
    (2) Genetically engineered food may not have the same nutritive value
    (3) The ethics of genetic engineering is complex. We must maintain a balance between
    genetics and humanity itself at all costs.
    (4) What are the legal and personal privacy
    implications of genetic engineering?
    (5) If humans can live virtually forever,
    how will they sustain themselves nutritionally and financially?