Global consequences of bio-technology Potentialities and obstacles

2014-04-05

Himalayan News Service

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Bio-technology, standing on basic biology, aims at exploring potentialities and hidden mysteries about nature and using them on expanding fundamentals and serving humankind. Bio-technology brings improvement on existing products and introduces new products (gene transfer) in organisms and their parts. Immediately, and, on the long run, biotechnology obviously changes status quo and is changing through producing human basics (food, clothes, jobs and medicine) and semi-basic needs (cosmetics, tonics, flavors etc.).

Human civilization has entered the 21st century, and is welcoming the post-modern era with bitter accompaniments: under-nutrition, starvation, life threatening new diseases, land depleting urbanization, global desertification, deforestation and multi-sector devastating climate change. Overpopulation, urbanization, industrialization, fossil fuel consumption and deforestation are major causes which have ruined nature and brought global imbalances. These global bad consequences have brought lethal diseases like swine flu, avian flu, SARS, AIDS and resistant pathogens.

That human civilization is in danger is not a single problem but its activities have ruined nature created over four billion years, in only a few centuries. Lamentation and crocodile’s tears are not solutions but every step taken to move ahead will be a shining indicator. How the national and the global plans are designed to address and solve these burning issues will soon decide human’s and the nature’s future. For this, biotechnology is the major solution but not all in all.

Biotechnology brings products, so it depends on the economy. Biotech-based industries have blossomed in the USA, Europe and India. Biotech-based industries have contributed a lot to their gross national productivity and their economic growth rate. On a personal level, cultivation, farming and running small biotech businesses will solve unemployment and food scarcity. So, investment on biotech-based industries is required to bring wholesome prosperity and economic stability. However, in Nepal, the trend is to invest on immediate profit making companies and the leadership and bureaucrats have not planned to invest in these. Farsighted policies should be made on the national level investment and personal level motivation.

The most burning problems addressed by biotechnology till date are: GM and molecularly bred cultivars (super plants) with huge productivity, and fortified plants aim to solve the food crisis and under-nutrition enhancing some essential amino acids and vitamins. Antisense technology has made tremendous achievements in gene therapy in human genetic, prenatal and new generation diseases and in building crop resistances to biotic and abiotic adversities. Even though inadequate, biodiesel and bioethanol through Jatropha processing and consolidated fermentation have shown renewable, judicious, non-polluting alternatives to fossil fuels. Bio-gas (methane) and bio-brikett are alternatives to firewood and help to conserve the forest. Grass crops like napier, lucerne, rye, alfa alfa etc have been alternatives to grazing in jungles, checking deforestation and extreme consequences like floods, droughts, climate changes etc. Till date, we have made ozone holes and welcomed skin diseases and cancers.

There are many things to accomplish to lead this bio-sphere and human civilization safely. Land engineering to increase fertile lands, soil management, reforestation on barren places, river management etc will have immediate impact on erosion control, land fertility and crop productivity, and positive impacts on the climate. Organic farming and integrated pest management practices will also have immediate impacts on pollution control and nature’s conservation. What more to be done are as important as what we should stop and alter. Let’s talk about green and white revolution and leave political revolution, stop unmanaged treeless urbanization, produce and use bio-plastics instead, manage agricultural production system, occupy air for settlement and cultivation and save land area for cultivation, manage land and engineer cultivable plots, produce hydro-electricity and let’s use other non polluting alternatives to fossil fuels, use bio-brikett and bio-gas for cooking and save the forests, not destroy forests for paper and newspapers, but rather use electronics for communication and study.

There are some barks at bio-technology. Today anti-GMO and or anti-Monsanto campaigns are on the road against their technology exploitation like gene termination. Some voices are seen from conservationists as a fear that recombinant genes may escape into the environment. Some voices are that nature should not be changed or exploited against god’s grandeur. However, bio-technology has not thrilled its legs rather it takes them positively and uses them on its improvements. Bio-technology has done much on disclosing secrets of life and on saving eroding and degenerated life through Germplasm conservation. Many things are to be done through cooperation, coordination and initiatives taken on the national and global level.

(Source: The Himalayantimes)