The benefits of biotechnology are many and obvious in both the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors. Still, it also has to be pointed out that there are potential risks and downsides which the industry will need to face and overcome. Biotechnology can allow far greater quantities of food to be grown in the same area, at lower expense and greatly reduced risk of disease and pestilence, wiping out the entire crop. To also allow essential drugs to be produced in quantities that are far and beyond those of conventional production.
This is one technology where the benefits have been largely known long before they could ever be brought into reality. There has always been an awareness among the majority of the population that gene manipulation was possible, even though many people may not have understood how it could happen or the extent to which genes can be altered. The scope is virtually unlimited, and it is this which brings in the difficulties and the potential moral arguments. We have already reached the stage where animals can be cloned, so it is technically possible to clone humans at some point in the future.
Some of the greatest benefits that biotechnology can bestow are to the agricultural and food industries, where tougher strains of crops can be grown to make them resistant to disease and pestilence. The use of chemical insecticides on commercial crops remains controversial, and it certainly means that crops cannot be grown as cheaply or as quickly as possible if the chemicals were not used. Biotechnology offers the possibility of eliminating insecticides from crop production, although any changes are unlikely to last forever. The insect pests are likely to evolve to meet the threat, as has happened in hotel bed bugs.
Another benefit of biotechnology that the agricultural sector can know is resistance against climatic change. At this present point in history, we are experiencing greater variation from the seasonal temperature averages and unpredictable rainfall. This creates an increased danger to crops of total failure due to their inability to withstand harsh conditions. It is possible to create enhanced crops that can hold water for longer and survive drought conditions. It is also possible to develop crops that can survive in more extreme temperatures.
Biotechnology can bestow benefits that go beyond the agricultural sector. They can spread into pharmaceutical development also and are doing right at present. The technology can allow new drugs to be created, and it can also provide the circumstances in which existing drugs can be produced more cheaply and in greater numbers. This can have a profound effect on the profits of pharmaceutical companies, and it can also reduce the expenses of those needing medical treatment. It even offers the possibility of drugs being grown economically in the Third World to be made available to communities for the first time.
Another benefit of biotechnology is that it can and will create economic growth, allowing more people to work in a sector of the industry that will prosper for a long time. It can secure the livelihoods of farmers who will be able to create crops with a higher sale value to the public, and it will keep qualified researchers in work for many years to come. There will also be spin-off benefits to the industries that have to trade with biotechnology, as workers within those industries have more stable jobs and experience biotechnology’s benefits.