Week 6/ Biotechnology/ Andrew Curnow

The term biotechnology is one that on occasion gets overlooked when one contemplated the realm of sciences. This is at least true in my own experience. Though I had heard of the field of study, and even had a light familiarity with the broad topic, I had never truly touched upon its application in the real world. Encyclopedia Britannica defines the term biotechnology as: “the use of biology to solve problems and make useful products”, however even this definition is extremely broad. As I researched the topic myself, I reencountered various facets of biotechnology that we discussed in class, namely the use of genetic engineering in both plants and animals. As I dwelled over the articles, reading once again on the controversial topics such as genetically engineering the ‘perfect’ human, the material grew slightly irrelevant. I began to ponder over whether or not there was a facet of biotech that wasn’t constantly argued over. This answer came to me as I explored the use of biotechnology in a more ‘hands on’ approach. Though I had never even realized it Biotechnology is an important, if not crucial, resource in the field of criminology and forensics. Everyday biotechnology is utilized to solve large scale crimes such as murder. Though it’s depicted on television and movies, many people do not realize that DNA testing is considered biotechnology. Through nearly any leftover piece of tangible evidence, whether a fingerprint or a possible article of DNA evidence such as a piece of hair, experts are able to identify criminals with amazing success. Through a process known as Gel Electrophoresis, criminals are now confessing as guilty rather than innocent at an astounding rate. In the process DNA is broken down into smaller segments as it passes through a ‘gel’ matrix with a current passing through it, causing larger pieces with larger electric charge to sink further, thus allowing a comparison of the smaller pieces at the top. The process allows accurate visualization and matching of DNA strands, a piece of evidence used in crime scene investigation that cannot be argued against.
 

This truly intrigued me, I had always known of DNA evidence used in crime scene investigation however I never looked into it. This brought forth a series of realizations. Many of those that oppose biotechnology simply are ignorant to range of applications that the field. They believe the term simply refers to ‘making new species’ aimed somehow at destroying the natural world. However it is much different, through the use of biotechnology not only are fields of medicine vastly improving, both in new medicines and genetic alteration, but also issues of society, through criminal cases being solved more easily and frequently. It is difficult to describe the path of our future however it is undoubtedly directed by biotechnology.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orKtTwHLwIc

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