Biotechnology, as the term indicates, is the technical use of living organisms and biological processes for obtaining bio products. These products are used in the field of medicine, agriculture and industries. Biotechnology has been used in various day to day processes since time immemorial. From preparation of wine, cheese, curing of tea leaves to natural manures and jute processing, the knowledge of biology has been put to effective use in the various spheres of our lives. With the advent of modern biotechnology in the 1980s, this field has seen a great boom in its totality. The first major footprint of this modern era is believed to have begun when the American Supreme Court granted patent to Ananda Chakraborty for the genetically modified Pseudomona species capable of breaking down crude oil. Ever since it has spread its root wide in every possible field. Hence, now it is being considered as a bright prospect for the future industries.
Recently, the reports of a study on the economic viability of biotechnology, conducted by the Centre for the study of Living Standards (a nonprofit Canadian organization aimed at economic research), was published. It was based on the figures provided by the Statistics Canada’s Biotech Use and Development Survey (BUDS). The research was headed by economist Ricardo de Avellez. The study showed great promise in the field with a forecast of $144 billion industry by 2030 at an average growth rate of 9.4%. Canada, being the world’s 10th largest economy, though generates only 1.19% of the total economy GDP from the biotechnology industry, it has seen phenomenal GDP growth at 10.7% between 1999-2007 preceded only by the mining and oil and gas extraction industry at 20.5%. This shows the rich economical implications that this field awaits in the mere future. In 2005 the number of innovative biotech firms increased from 358 in 1999 to 532, almost a 50% growth. Besides the impressive GDP, the employment that the industry has generated around itself is also a boon. Around 13,500 employees were employed in the various firms in 2005, a 74% increase from the figures in 1999. This figure definitely points to the immense potential of this yet to be explored field.
Biotechnology started in three different waves in three different time periods but now they overlap:
1. The Green Wave-Agricultural Biotechnology
This has been there right from the cradle of ancient civilizations. Nowadays with the development of genetically modified crops better yielding, pest resistant, seed less crops are being yielded. Only 20.1% firms and 9.8% of the work force are involved in the agricultural biotechnology and it generates 24.6% of the total revenue. Surely this field has a greater potential and would play an important role in meeting the food demands of the future.
2. The Red Wave-Medical Biotechnology
This field has seen the greatest growth. 58.3% of the biotech companies were involved in the health care system. A majority of 80.9% employees lent their workforce and it generated 70.6% of the revenue. The obvious reasons for its growth are the vaccines, artificial hormones, diagnostic tests, genetically tailored medicine and the list goes on.
3. The White Wave, the most recent Industrial Biotechnology
It is particular to term this a virgin field as its potential has been put to use the least whereas this is the field which shows the greatest promise. From development of biomining to bioremediation, from biofuels to biosensors, this field is teeming with unexplored industrial potentialities. With a small amount of industries into it, the field actually has seen a 10.1% decline in its revenues.
Biotechnology will definitely play a significant role in the country’s economy as more industries based on it will come up. Also the need for sustainable systems and cleaner and greener technology will provide impetus to this versatile field. Combined with the rich abundant natural resources, biotechnology will take the country a long way.