Biotechnology is a well-known term. The National Science and Technology Commission defines biotechnology as “biotechnology contains a series of technologies that can produce the products we need from organisms or cells, including gene recombination, cell fusion and some biological manufacturing processes.”
In fact, human beings have a long history of using organisms or cells to produce the products we need, such as tillage 10,000 years ago, animal husbandry to provide a stable source of food, fermentation technology to brew wine and make bread 6,000 years ago, fungus to treat wounds 2,000 years ago, and use in 1797. Smallpox vaccine, the discovery of antibiotic penicillin in 1928, etc.
Since human beings have been using biotechnology for so long, why has biotechnology suddenly attracted widespread attention since 1990? This is because since the 1950s, the scientific community has had a better understanding of the cells that constitute the smallest unit of organisms and the genes that control the genetic characteristics of cells, as well as the development of gene recombination and cell fusion techniques in the 1970s. Since these two technologies can enable cells or organisms to produce the substances we need more effectively, and contribute to industrial or agricultural production, a new biotechnology industry has been created since the 1980s.
Bill Gates said in 1996 that “biotechnology will change the world like computer software”. Modern biotechnology industry has been developing since 1980, and its applications include pharmaceuticals, agriculture, environmental protection, food processing, special chemicals and other industries. In the field of biomedical pharmaceuticals, 155 biotechnology drugs or vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States and used to treat diabetes, heart disease, cancer, AIDS and other diseases. In agriculture, genetic recombinant plants such as papaya, tomato, maize and soybean have been listed. These plants are characterized by strong resistance to pests and diseases, and can reduce the use of chemical pesticides.
The progress of human civilization is from the collecting society of early fishery hunting life to the agricultural society dominated by farming and animal husbandry, and then to the modern industrial society. Because of the increasing population and the over-exploitation of industrial land, the area of agricultural cultivated land has been reduced. In addition, the generation of greenhouse effect has also accelerated the extinction of species other than human beings, making the food problem become a very important core issue in the 21st century. With limited resources and unlimited human growth, some people have come up with the idea that if food could be increased by high technology, there would not be a day when food would be eaten up. Therefore, with the vigorous development of biotechnology, many things that could not be done before can be done today in the 21st century. Many impossible tasks can be accomplished through biotechnology, such as the use of smears or patches to influence body fat to achieve beauty and weight loss, or the use of Botox is an example of biotechnology.
Since human beings, people have tried to transform organisms. Traditionally, breeding and mating were used to acquire desired biological traits (such as sweet and tasty corn) and to reduce or eliminate undesirable traits (such as natural toxicity). On the other hand, food is a necessity for human growth, and the population has increased rapidly recently. In view of the shortage of food, so-called “artificial food” has begun to emerge. However, the biggest limitation of traditional breeding is that the mating varieties must be the same or similar. In order to break through this limitation, modern genetic engineering technology should be used scientifically to select the genes with some excellent characteristics of organisms accurately and transfer them to another species so that the new genetically modified organisms have the expected specific characteristics.
Data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that in 1991, Calgene applied for genetically modified tomatoes to transfer antisense polygalacturonase (PG) gene into tomatoes, delaying the maturation and softening of tomatoes. In 1994, the company’s “Flavor” (FLAVR SAVR) tomato was the world’s first approved genetically modified food. The PG gene that promotes the ripening of soft enzymes in delicious tomatoes is inhibited, so its texture is more solid, and it can reduce the damage and deterioration during harvesting, transportation and processing, thus preserving the flavor. At present, however, commercial production of tomatoes has ceased. In 1994, there were 29 applications, including soybeans, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, cotton and melons. Monsanto is one of the big companies.
In addition, in environmental protection, some toxic industrial wastes and contaminated crude oil have been decomposed by recombinant microorganisms. In food, fermentation engineering technology has been used to produce healthy foods such as lactic acid bacteria, Ganoderma lucidum and Cordyceps sinensis. In special chemicals, recombinant enzymes have been used to produce drugs or fibers. Or use it in detergents to decompose dirt. By 2001, there were about 1500 biotechnology companies worldwide, with an annual output value of $30 billion.
The technology of gene recombination and cell fusion is the cornerstone of modern biotechnology. In recent years, many new technologies and new applications have been developed on this basis. For example, protein engineering technology can be used to improve the structure and activity of proteins, and Bionanotechnology can be used to manufacture biosensors, biochips and drugs. Transport systems, tissue engineering technology can use stem cells to repair damaged organs, and animal replication technology can use nuclear transfer to replicate animals, etc.
The development of biotechnology aims at curing diseases, improving the quality of life, providing food that is not scarce and protecting our living environment. However, if not strictly monitored during the development of biotechnology, it may cause harm to human beings or the ecosystem of the earth. Attention should also be paid to its impact on humanity, morality or ecology.
As the application of biotechnology is very extensive and closely related to our daily life, there are often related reports in general newspapers and magazines or news media, so understanding new knowledge of biotechnology should be included in our regular study.
The task of biotechnology is to explore the mystery of life and master the law of life movement.
- Genetically modified products
- Genetically modified food
- brief introduction
The application of science and technology brings convenience, but also brings unknown fears. When the technology of gene recombination is widely used in the development of biology, medicine, agriculture and industry, and may even enter more fields in the future, which deeply affects our lives, we seem to realize that this is an irresistible trend. Therefore, it is more correct to have a positive understanding of genetically modified foods, to think rationally about acceptability, and to leave the right of choice to everyone.
The so-called “genetic modification” refers to the selection of specific genes for individual traits of organisms and the alteration of their genome composition and expression. Scientists use different biotechnologies, such as restriction enzymes, to make target gene fragments, then connect DNA fragments to “vector” DNA molecules, and then transfer vectors to target chromosomes. This process is a kind of genetic engineering.
Different from the traditional breeding method, the transfer of traits is limited to individuals of the same species or similar provenances. Modern genetic engineering technology has broken through the traditional pattern of breeding. It can insert foreign genes from different provenances into plants in a “man-made” way. In addition, genes can even be derived from microorganisms or animals. Body. For example, insecticidal crystalline toxin gene (cry-gene) from Bacillus thuringiensis was implanted into maize, which can also synthesize insecticidal toxin protein produced by cry gene. Therefore, it has insect-resistant characteristics. This maize with cry gene implanted artificially can be called a GMO.
GMO (genetically modified organism) can generally be divided into three categories, namely:
Genetically modified microorganisms (and their products): including microorganisms that can be used as fermented food or as food additives such as enzymes, aminoacids, organic acids, vitamins, pigments and spices.
Genetically modified crops (and their processed products): This is the fastest growing area in GMOs. Transgenic crops such as soybeans, maize, tomatoes and potatoes have been introduced.
Transgenic animals (and their processed products): Salmon transfected with growth hormone gene, but most of them are at the research stage.
Genetically modified foods (GMF = GM foods), also known as genetically modified foods, are processed by GMO. Therefore, all foods derived from genetic recombination technology are called genetically modified foods. How does genetically modified food come into being?
Generally speaking, there are two main ways to implant functional foreign genes into plants. For dicotyledons such as soybeans, tomatoes and cotton, gene transfer is usually achieved by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Agrobacterium crown can naturally (i.e. without any artificial treatment) infect a wide variety of plants by inserting a segment of its own DNA directly into the DNA of infected plants, so long as the oncogene in Agrobacterium crown DNA is removed, and the foreign gene to be inserted into the stem of Agrobacterium crown. Bacteria infect plants so that additional genes can be transferred to the DNA of infected dicotyledons. Cells containing additional genes in infected plants can be further screened out, and cell culture techniques can be used to produce complete plants containing additional genes. As far as monocotyledons (e.g. maize, wheat and rice) are concerned, Agrobacterium crown is not very effective in infecting them. Generally, the foreign genes to be implanted are coated on tungsten balls, and then the tungsten balls coated with foreign genes are physically introduced into plant cells, some of which have foreign bases. As part of plant DNA, these plant cells containing foreign genes can be screened out and cultured into complete beads because they fall off from the surface of tungsten particles. In addition to Agrobacterium coronatum, plant viruses are often used as vectors, but not all plant viruses have the function of vectors unless the virus can be dispersed between cells via plasmodesmata, and foreign genes must be replicated and the modified viral nucleic acid can infect plant cells. It does not cause symptoms, and the virus must be widely parasitic. Generally speaking, DNA is the main target of gene transfer. RNA-containing viruses are considered only when viruses using DNA are not effective. It is preferable for plant viruses to contain DNA rather than RNA as vectors. However, only caulimo virus and Gemini virus are known to contain DNA, among which caulimo virus and Gemini virus are used. The latter is widely favored by researchers because it can infect dicotyledons and monocotyledons and has a wide range of hosts.
Controversy over genetically modified foods
In recent years, biotechnology has been gradually applied to food production, so the derivatives of genetically modified foods have also been listed on the market. There are still many controversies about the impact of genetically modified food on human body, which requires long-term and extensive research. In order to understand the public’s knowledge and attitude towards genetically modified foods, the Department commissioned a survey on “the public’s knowledge and attitude towards biotechnology and genetically modified foods” by private companies. It is hoped to understand the public’s attitude towards genetically modified foods and their views on labeling policies, which will serve as a reference for future government to formulate relevant laws and regulations. According to.
Threats to the environment include:
(1) threats to non-target organisms and beneficial insects;
(2) reduction of biodiversity;
(3) gene drift and genetic pollution.
The main economic impacts are as follows:
Loss in the market
Although the crop itself will not move, food made from it can be sold everywhere, which also arouses many people’s concerns about genetically modified crops. In 2000, Nature magazine reported that Star Link Corn, an unauthorized genetically modified maize for human consumption, had flowed into Japan’s food distribution network. Star corn is not allowed to be eaten by humans in Japan, although it can be used as feed in the United States, mainly because it contains an insecticidal toxin called Cry9C, which is thought by scientists to cause allergic reactions after being eaten. In the past, about one third of the maize exported by the United States was exported to Japan, while the European Union purchased about 40% of the soybean exported by the United States. Consumers in these areas have doubts about the food safety of genetically modified maize or soybean, which will pose a great threat to future exports of the United States.
For farmers growing organic crops, if they are cross-pollinated or mixed with genetically modified crops, they will suffer serious marketing problems due to poor quality, especially maize and sugar beet, which are cross-pollination plants. In this way, farmers who produce organic agricultural products will have to temporarily withdraw from the organic product market, and their income will drop sharply before they get organic certification again.