Biotechnology can be traced back to the early ages of the human race. Our previous generations played an essential role in generating agricultural innovation, using human-made methods for cultivating crops and domestic animals. The way vaccines were invented, and antibiotics were discovered was all possible because of the technology of bioengineering.
After years of research into decrypting chemical and genetic structure of cells, scientists in the twentieth century started what would become years’ worth of research and scientific discovery. The most amazing strides in biotechnology in recent times were made at the most cellular level within membranes.
The most widespread application of biotech is on humans. One of the forms of biotechnology that was present even before we were born was fertility support and prenatal screening to home pregnancy tests. It stays with us through childhood, in the form of antibiotics and things that help the immune system.
That being said, biotechnology, along with its benefits, also has many risks associated with it. The bioengineered cells are often not stable and can deteriorate by themselves. If these cells come into contact with nature, there is a possibility of causing many environmental hazards.
Risks of Biotechnology
Despite the research that’s going on in biotechnology, many things are still not clear. Biotechnology is mainly concerned with modifying organisms genetically; hence the outcomes are still unknown, and scientists do not know what to expect due to such bioengineering. There are no guarantees if something will work or not.
Altering Nature’s Cycle
Biotechnology alters the natural cycle of things by artificially producing elements and genetically modifying them to create variations of the product or organism. This often leads to unforeseen circumstances and consequences that people might not be prepared for handling.
Generation of New Forms of Viruses
Sometimes, certain cases meddling with genetic modifications of organisms can lead to the development of new and strange forms of viruses. These viruses are yet to be seen and discovered, and their cure may or may not be available. These viruses pose a threat to not only human life but everything in nature.
May Cause an Outbreak of Various Diseases
One of the side effects of biotechnology can be the outbreak of new kinds of diseases, which we have not seen yet. The changing in organisms at a cellular level and modifying it can cause new viruses and, as a result, can cause an outbreak of new kinds of diseases and epidemics to which the scientists may not have the cure.
Human Error and Incapable Hands
Biotechnology’s significance cannot be denied or discredited. Still, if such technology falls into inexperienced hands, it can lead to severe problems and even result in the spread of a health hazard. Hence we have to consider the element of human error and how it can badly harm humanity if left in incapable hands.
Development of Allergies
New and different kinds of allergies can arise with the consumption of certain types of bioengineered food. They can lead to various complications and unique forms of allergens, causing different kinds of health complications.
Toxicity Levels Can Be Alarming
Toxicity is the degree of harm a chemical substance can damage an organism and cause side effects. It is linked with genetically modified organisms (GMO) used to produce a single-cell protein (SCP) for human food and animal feed. Unpredictable gene expressions can lead to severe illnesses and toxicity levels. The pathogens that bear drug resistance can also be released into the environment.
Biotechnology as a Weapon of Destruction
The world has recently witnessed the devastating effects of disease outbreaks such as Ebola and the coronavirus, but those were natural in origin. The malicious use of biotechnology can mean that future attacks can also be created on purpose and used against people.
Terrorism and Black Market
Specific cells and chemicals used in biotechnology can be used as weapons and sold on the black market. What’s worse is that the terrorists can even get their hands on it and use it for their malicious intents and purposes, which can cost lots of innocent lives in a worst-case scenario.
Thankfully, the US government and the UN have come in to keep a check on every nation and every technology that can prove fatal for humanity. Sanctions have been put in place to use every technology deemed harmful for the human race and environment.
Can Negatively Impact Agriculture
Although biotechnology has done many good things in the world, it also has its disadvantages. Some researchers have concerns that genetically modified crops may transfer genetic material into natural, unmodified plants.
For example, an herbicide-resistant crop can share some of its traits with a weed, resulting in an herbicide-resistant weed. Another concern about agricultural biotechnology centers is that the uncertainty of genetically modified crops’ long-term biological viability.
Impacts Nature, Biodiversity, and The Ecosystem
The long-term consequences of the genetic alteration of various organisms from bacteria in the pharmaceutical industry to the animals in biological research to agriculture plants are still unknown. The organisms that are genetically modified can also escape into the wild, especially the transgenic microorganism.
If exposed to nature, the genetically modified organisms can upset the Ecosystem’s balance in nature, which can cause a decrease in biodiversity, also known as the variety of organisms.
Biotechnology can lead to many genetic problems and congenital disabilities if not carefully used and administered, with the possibility of completely altering and scarring the genetic code of human beings. Most of the organisms that are operated industrially are harmless, but some of them are highly pathogenic.
Pathogenic organisms and a few viruses are still used nowadays to produce vaccines and diagnostic kits. If these organisms are mistakenly released into the environment, they can cause several diseases and a significant threat to human life and the environment itself.
The use of biotechnology can cause a lot of congenital disabilities and abnormalities in not only human beings but also animals as well. It can permanently damage the genetic code and damage DNA, resulting in birth complications and abnormalities.
Biotechnology, with all its useful possibilities, is undoubtedly great, but it’s also costly. An average biotech plant can cost you hundreds of millions of dollars, which would take a lot of the country’s expenditure, or, in private companies, a lot of financing, which is often not possible.
The biotech cost keeps rising higher and higher due to cutting-edge technology, and finding experts who can work with it is not easy either. Hence, buying biotechnology or investing in it would make people think twice before going this route, let alone measure its downsides.
However, efforts are being made to produce low-cost biotech that will prove to be just as useful and won’t overburden the economy.
Biotechnology – A Potential Danger to Humanity
Biotechnology has made our lives easier by developing enhanced seeds, medicines, and even artificial cells to help us in more than one way. Where it has its benefits, it can also prove fatal if left unchecked without any regulations that can govern its usage. Therefore, many things are still uncertain about biotechnology. Due to the risks, it is fair to assume that one needs to be skilled or an expert in the field before dealing with biotechnology.