Biotechnology refers to various technologies being used today that use living organisms in order to create products or modify them so that they would be fit for different applications. This branch of science has had great achievements and advancements in the last fifty years (Springham, et. al., 1999).
One of the more visible areas of applications of biotechnology is in agriculture. Biotechnology is being used today in modifying the genetic strain of crops and plants in order to generate greater yield or to increase their resistance to diseases and infections. The most difficult area of the application of biotechnology to agriculture is in increasing the yield of crops and plants.
This entails transferring one or two desirable genes to a variety of a particular crop to increase its yield. Moreover, there are varieties of crops and plants that can withstand extreme environmental situations such as drought, saltiness of the soil and heat among others. Through biotechnology, crops may also be made more resistant to viruses and other diseases.
This includes the introduction of genetic strain in plants so that they could withstand herbicides more. This is done in order to decrease the dependence of farmers on chemicals for agricultural processes (Springham, et. al., 1999).
The criticism to the use of biotechnology in agriculture, however, is that there is an increased use of herbicides, to which the weeds are developing their own genetic responses to. As such, there are now weeds with higher tolerance for herbicides. Moreover, herbicidal residues are left on the crops, which might have important effects on humans who eat these produce. Organic crops and conventional farming is also negatively affected by this and the ecosystem may also be damaged by these technologies.
Springham, D., Springham, G., Moses, V. & Cape, R.E. (1999). Biotechnology: The Science and the Business. London: Taylor & Francis.