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Biotechnology is the use of living organisms, their parts or by-products in industrial applications. The term Biotechnology can refer to a wide range of applications from a vaccine, to Chitosan coated wound dressings (Chitosan is derived from crab-shell), developing new sources of biofuel, genetic modification of crops, beer brewing and even anti-aging cosmetics.
The scope of Biotechnology in our world has driven a need to classify Biotech based on some common features or their final purpose. Below are some of the main areas of Biotechnology using a colour classification.
Red Biotechnology (Biopharma) brings together all those Biotechnology uses connected to medicine and veterinary products. Red Biotechnology includes producing vaccines and antibiotics, developing new drugs, molecular diagnostics techniques, regenerative therapies and the development of genetic engineering to cure diseases through genetic manipulation.
White Biotechnology relates to industrial Biotech. White Biotechnology pays special attention to designing low resource-consuming processes and products, making them more energy efficient and less polluting than traditional ones. An example of white Biotech is the use of microorganisms in chemical production, the design and production of new plastics/textiles and the development of new sustainable energy sources such as bio-fuels.
Yellow Biotechnology, has been used to refer to the use of Biotechnology in food production, for example in making wine, cheese, and beer by fermentation. ( A favourite Biotech colour in the LSC office!)
Grey Biotechnology refers to environmental applications, and is focused on the maintenance of biodiversity and the removal of pollutants/contaminants using microorganisms and plants to isolate and dispose of different substances such as heavy metals and hydrocarbons. A great example of this is the Carlow based SME MicroGen Biotech which is helping to clean industrially polluted land in China.
Green Biotechnology is focused on agriculture. Green Biotechnological approaches and applications include creating new plant varieties of agricultural interest, producing biofertilizers and biopesticides. This area of Biotech is based exclusively on transgenics (genetic modification) i.e. they have an extra gene or genes inserted into their DNA. The extra gene may come from the same species or from a different species.
One of the interesting developments is plant varieties are able to act as bio-factories and produce substances of medical, biomedical or industrial interest in quantities easy to be isolated and purified for example tobacco plants modified to grow Ebola vaccine.
Blue Biotechnology is based on the exploitation of marine resources to create products and applications of industrial interest. Taking into account that the sea presents the greatest biodiversity, there is potentially a huge range of sectors to benefit from the use of this kind of Biotechnology. One example is the use of wound dressings coated with Chitosan (Chitosan is a sugar that is typically derived from shrimp and crab shells).
All of the above Biotechnology classifications share the need for Bio-process engineers, Microbiologists, Cell biologists, Automation Engineers, Equipment specialists, Research scientists and Bio-chemical engineers. Getting your foot in the door of Biotechnology can open up a whole new world of opportunities in so many different areas.
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