Field trials of genetically engineered brassicas might lead to an increased resistance among pests. This was claimed by GE Free New Zealand. Researchers have produced GM broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower containing Bt bacteria which is used as a natural pesticide in the organics industry. Dr. Mary Christey, researcher stated that the Bt bacteria only killed the caterpillars which feeded on the brassica plants whereas GE Free New Zealand stated that if the case trial went ahead it would lead to growing resistance to Bt among the insects. On the other hand Dr. Christey negates this claim and states that if the trials get approved they would be closely monitored to prevent pollen transfer to other non GM crops. It seems that GM crops are being shunned every where. This makes me feel what the future of genetically engineered crops is.
Some hope for diabetes patients. For the first time insulin secreting cells have been created from human embryonic stem cells which could lead to the unlimited supply of cells which might be transplanted into people suffering from type 1 diabetes. Researchers at Novocell used a combination of chemicals in order to wheedle the stem cells to produce pancreatic cells. These cells create as much insulin as normal pancreatic cells would produce but when compared with adult cells it was not regulated by sugar levels. If this test turns out to be successful, researchers have also found out a way of coating the cells in a polymer known as polyethylene glycol which would prevent the cells from rejection from recipients immune system and at the same time allow insulin, sugar and other molecules to filter in and out.
Africa is one of those continents which is not only poor but also suffers from starvation. Biotechnology has come to the rescue of millions of people who are suffering at the hands of famines and starvation out there. Efforts are underway to improve the production of maize and bananas using biotechnology. Maize is a staple crop of the people in east and central Africa and it is being consumed by the people out there to meet their energy needs. It is not only helping in increasing the production but is also being used to make them pest resistance. Though biotechnology is facing controversies but it is preventing a number of deaths in the continent through increased production and feeding millions of hungry people out there.
Taiwan is working hard to emerge as a biotechnology powerhouse. It is churning a number of products using biotechnology such as anti cancer drugs, heath foods, skin care products etc. Taiwan is trying to utilize its flora and fauna for this purpose but it would take some time before it creates a name for itself in this field. The main reason behind the delay is that the support from the government is not enough and the country has a poor record of cashing in on laboratory breakthroughs and this is making it difficult for it to progress. In the Asia region it is facing tough competition from countries like Singapore and though India and China are too their but their major efforts are concentrated towards increasing crop productivity. Like IT, Taiwan also wants biotechnology to act as a catalyst in the growth of their economy.
It was twenty five years when the patent for seminal technique important to the field of biotechnology was awarded but now a biotechnology company has come forward to claim the patent and this has made the government wonder whether it granted the patent to the wrong people. Now the US Patent Office has again started investigations in order to decide the rightful owner of the patent, whether it is California Institute of Technology which currently holds the patent or Rnzo Biochem which is claiming for the same? In case Enzo wins back the patent it would certainly become cash rich whereas Applied Biosystems which licensed the patent from California Institute of Technology stands to lose as up till now it was a leader in the DNA sequencing business.
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan has stated that a number of risks are being posed by the field of biotechnology. He stated that global safeguards were required to be created in order to deal with this problem. He further stated that it could be disastrous if the latest advancements of biotechnology such as work with viruses and gene manipulation ended up with the wrong people. Kofi Annan stated at the St Gallen University: As biological research expands, and technologies become increasingly accessible, this potential for accidental or intentional harm grows exponentially. Even novices working in small laboratories will be able to carry out gene manipulation. His views come after he had stated his concerns regarding biological terrorism in a global forum in May.
A number of challenges and opportunities are being presented by the CRO market and would certainly aid the biotechnology sector in achieving objectives with services that would cut down the cost and time for marketing drugs. CROs are all set to cash in on the opportunities presented by this sector and lead to increased share in R&D spending. We are witnessing a trend where a number of biotech companies are outsourcing their R&D to CROs due to factors such as increasing drug development cost, lack of adequate skill and strict regulatory regime. CROs are gaining due to the fact that biotech companies have investments which are smaller in development infrastructure when compared with pharmaceutical companies. Barath Shankar S., Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan said: The increase in globalization of trials is likely to result in several CROs expanding across geographical boundaries and augmenting their capacity to cater to this opportunity. As the market continues to enlarge and inorganic growth emerges as a critical component of this expansion, the trend of deepening focus on core expertise is becoming crucial. Though CRO services are increasing but we are witnessing a trend where commoditization is on the rise due to similar services being offered.
When in 2005, farmers had brought ninety million hectares under GM crop, five European countries were also party to it. Though the U.K government feels that there is no scientific finding which calls for blanket ban on GM crops still GM crop is not being grown on a commercial scale in the country. Now the farmers of the country want that they would like to reap the benefits of biotechnology and grow these crops on their farmland. These farmers have realized that these crops offer them higher productivity. The confidence of the farmers in this technology can be judged from this statement of Bob Fiddaman who said: We were getting anything from 10 to 15 percent increased yield from the GM part of the crop referencing results from the field scale trials on herbicide-tolerant oil seed rape conducted on his UK farm. Given the opportunity, I’d grow it tomorrow. The technology was that good. It seems the farmers are quite confident about this technology but whether the government commands as much of the confidence needs to be seen.
As a consumer do you feel as if you are a paying a hell lot for your medication? If yes, the soon you will get relief as Democratic control of Congress is expected to support a legislation which will allow generic versions of popular biotech drugs and hence you would see cheaper drugs in the market. When compared with traditional pharmaceutical companies, no federal regulatory system exists for approval of generic versions of biotech drugs. Generally a patent is granted for twenty years Mr.Waxman, Chairman-elect, House Committee on Government Reform stated: Biotech drugs promise life-saving benefits, but at a cost so high, many Americans cannot afford them. He added that the “prospects for passing a generics biologics bill have improved significantly,” and the issue “is one of my highest priorities for the next Congress Certainly patients need some relief from the companies which are charging exorbitant rates for medications.
Biotechnology has certainly had an important effect on the world of biotechnology and has contributed to a number of fields but one of the biggest gainers from biotechnology is the agriculture sector. Biotechnology has helped in improving the productivity of commodity crop and bring stability in the agriculture arena. Biotechnology has certainly helped agriculture in fighting diseases, pests and unfavorable climatic conditions in the world of agriculture. Though biotechnology has contributed a lot to agriculture but most of the contribution has been besotted by controversies and there has always been an air of suspicion. Various countries and their people have opposed biotechnology but we need to consider the fact that this particular technology would change the face of agriculture completely in the days to come. Now people need to start trusting this technology if they want to derive the best out of it.