Small Science with a Big Impact

Biotechnology is the study and application of living organisms and processes to create useful products. Applications of biotechnology range from genetically modified food to pharmaceuticals and the prevention of disease. While the science has been around for the better part of a century, it has gained quite a bit of momentum in the past decade. This past year has seen great progress in particular, with developments in temperature measurement, food modification, and health monitoring.

Genetically Modified Food

Genetic food modification is everywhere and making tastier, healthier, more plentiful food around the world. It has become so commonplace that many consumers aren’t even concerned about putting a distinct label on it anymore. Modified food can resist bacteria that might wipe out a crop, resist climate changes, or become accessible to people that may otherwise have an allergic reaction to it. These developments have saved banana and papaya crops in Africa and Hawaii. Scientists also engineered a new type of cow that produces low-allergy milk. These developments are revolutionizing agriculture and could have amazing implications for mankind.


Biotechnology is also affecting our healthcare system. This year, a company developed a microchip which is being embedded in artificial joints to monitor and prevent the spread of disease. The microchip can be embedded in implants or prosthetics and has sensors which can alert you to bacteria or temperature changes. This technology will allow people to be aware of infections early on, before they spread and become a real problem.

Cellular Studies

Another advancement in the field is the technology developed to study and measure biomolecules in cells and tissues. Scientists have learned more in the past few years than ever before due to the progress of medical equipment. The complexity of the human body requires scientists to garner as much information as possible to understand its intricate structure, as well as the micro-organisms that we interact with. Precision viewing instruments have progressed to allow for inspection of cells on a greater amplification. Also, there have been developments in precision temperature measurement tools. Software accompanies the monitors, with databases that can track real time temperatures and develop graphs of the progress in temperature variance. Such information is crucial to the study of bacteria and disease-causing micro-organisms.

These instruments have made it possible to monitor cells, mining for data that allows analysis that will hopefully lead to some amazing developments in the prevention of disease for mankind.

Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.

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