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BiotechnologyBy Colleen Bradley (Period A)

Everybody does laundry, but what you may not know is why some detergents are so powerful. Without biotechnology, there would be no way to remove stains. The enzymes that break down proteins (protease), starches (amylase), and grease (lipase) that bottles boast on their labels - those are genetic modifications. Scientists must insert the DNA for those enzymes so that, when the washing powder/liquid comes in contact with the stain, a reaction will occur and the spots will be removed.

Another use for biotechnology is to solve issues in the environments such as contaminated soil or ground water - this is called bioremediation. Bioremediation relies on the rapid growth of microorganisms that will break down pollutants. To aid this process, scientists will insert "fertilizers" into the DNA of the organisms working to rid the environment of the contaminant. This method of cleanup is a much better option than transporting the contaminated soil/water to a facility to be treated and/or landfilling the material.

"Golden Rice" is a creation of BioTech that is helping to save thousands of lives. This creation is genetically modified rice - meaning it has been enhanced with beta-carotene (the origin of vitamin A). According to an article found on the NPR website, "a single bowl of this ... can supply 60 percent of a child's daily requirement of vitamin A." This innovation helps impoverished children to develop better eyesight and, therefore, avoid harmful impairments and blindness.

If you yourself have never experienced the flu, it is more than likely that you know someone that has. You also probably know (or have had yourself) a flu shot. Well, that shot is an invention of biotechnology, too. Private manufacturers inject strains of the influenza virus into eggs, harvest fluid from them after incubation, and then the virus is killed and the antigen is purified before transferring it to a syringe and calling it a vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration of America must test and approve each lot of vaccines before sending them out, but, thanks to the advances in technology this poses no bigger issue than creating the vaccines themselves.

Influenza Vaccine

Laundry Detergent

Golden Rice

Environmental Cleanup

Bringing biotechnology into the home: Cathal Garvey at TEDxDublinSource: YouTube

Golden Rice CloseupSource: Public Domain

Introduction to BiotechnologySource: YouTube

Laundry - hallSource: Public Domain

Water that has been decontaminatedSource: Public Domain

Syringe and Test TubesSource: Public Domain



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