A simple look at Biotech

According to The Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD), Bio-technology is an application of science and technology to living organisms, such as plants and animals, in order to produce goods, services or knowledge. It houses numerous firms that have been a ground for breakthrough in medicine, agriculture and manufacturing. The technology has branched out to disciplines including DeouxyRibo Nucleic Acid (DNA)/ Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), Bioinformatics, Nanobiotechnology, Gene & RNA vectors, Cell & Tissue Culture and engineering, Proteins & other Molecules and Process bio-technology techniques.

As an Industry that thrives on innovation and breakthrough, biotechnology has revolutionized Healthcare, Agriculture and Industry. In Healthcare, the technology has been a catalyst for producing vaccines, medicines or diagnostic tests with materials and technology that is safe and sustainable for the users, the environment and the entire process. Biotech medicine is positioned to treat and prevent chronic diseases and illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, rare and infectious diseases. Despite the process of clinical trials and seeking approvals is long and cumbersome, the medical breakthrough is rewarding and in some cases, last over a lifetime. In situations like the current Pandemic we are living in, the technology has enabled countries to produce diagnostics tests that have been used to detect infection, so as quarantine can be administered.

For Agriculture, genetically modified (GM) crops has allowed to solve the food security problem, as more yields are harvested into the food ecosystem. It has reduced fuel use and Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as less tillage is required, due to the small amount of land used. Less tillage accounts for soil to be less disturbed, hence protection against soil erosion. The food produced under bio-tech carry less toxins. Just like bio medicine, Agriculture GM products also require approvals to produce food or feed and pacing them on the market.

In Industries, bio-technology uses renewable resources and bio based processes to manufacture bio based products. Enzymes and Micro-Organisms are used to make industrial products such as food, detergents. Chemicals, feed, food etc. Out of all continents in the world, Europe is a clear market leader in Industry Biotech, accounting for over 60% of the world’s enzymes, with most produced bio products.

This field whose growth has been fostered by scientists, medical specialists and even environmentalists, has caught so much momentum in the times we are living in, because of the healthy life style people have been accustomed to such as being vegan or plant based, advocating for intake of bio products. Activists of climate change have called for more bio products, as a means to ensure we protect and preserve the environment, for it to be safe for people to live in.

All this seem easy and simple, however, only few biotech firms achieve their goal of growing into big giants they dream of becoming. The road to become a Fully Integrated Pharmaceutical Company (FIPCO) takes a duration of a decade or more filled with clinical trials, long regulatory approval frameworks and a well-endowed funding that will cover all these activities including a state of the art research center. In the end, some have a chance to emerge as a FIPCO, some goes on to be acquired by Big Pharma Companies and while others simply burn out, due to inadequate funding and poor innovation, eventually heading into bankruptcy.

Recently biotech has been on a roll, especially been influenced by the current times we are living in. The pandemic that has crippled most parts of the world, has directed all eyes towards the Industry, as everyone is looking towards them to find a vaccine, that is safe for everyone, and most importantly, the one that works. Moderna, a decade old biotech company, is on a forefront to spearhead a new class of vaccine that uses messenger RNA, that is considered more safe, as it carries a single stranded molecule which has a genetic code from DNA that is a catalyst of protein synthesis that enables the body to prevent or fight the disease.

As more people are are making a shift towards eating more healthy, they opt to consume plant based diets or meat substitutes. This has attributed to comapnies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to gain a lot of traction, as more people opt to intake meat substitutes, which are made of plants. Also, existing companies have expanded to establish separate production lines, that are tasked to create bio foods such as bio juices, bio eggs, bio milk etc.

The industry is promising, as it is expected to produce favorable returns even during downturns. This is driven by the need to constantly consume foods that are favorable to our bodies and health, so as to contribute to our longevity. The strong advocacy for climate change by young people such as the likes of Greta Thunberg, has called for companies to maintain sustainability towards the environment, from the production stage till when the product reaches the consumer. Making bio products is the only way to ensure that the environment remains free from contamination, and becomes favorable to house humans for a living.

Despite all the amazing efforts directed towards the right change, more work ought to be done. The public and private sector should all work together to ensure the community become fully bio and sustainable. More funding should be rewarded to companies that use bio-technology, as there is a promising breakthrough from the products created especially in Medicine. New diseases are been borne on a daily basis, as a result vaccines, medicines and better treatment methods are necessary to ensure they are contained and curbed. More so, the world population is constantly increasing by every second, it is our duty to make proper use of the land that we live in, and the environment in general, to ensure it is safe and clean for the future generation.