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BIODIVERSITY (TITLE)

Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia,
terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this
includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”

Sub topics:

A. BIOTECHNOLOGY

Definition:

Biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that
help improve our lives and the health of our planet.

Benefits:

Heal the World

Biotech is helping to heal the world by harnessing nature's own toolbox and using our own genetic makeup to
heal and guide lines of research by:

 Reducing rates of infectious disease;


 Saving millions of children's lives;
 Changing the odds of serious, life-threatening conditions affecting millions around the world;
 Tailoring treatments to individuals to minimize health risks and side effects;
 Creating more precise tools for disease detection; and
 Combating serious illnesses and everyday threats confronting the developing world.

Fuel the World

Biotech uses biological processes such as fermentation and harnesses biocatalysts such as enzymes, yeast, and
other microbes to become microscopic manufacturing plants. Biotech is helping to fuel the world by:

 Streamlining the steps in chemical manufacturing processes by 80% or more;


 Lowering the temperature for cleaning clothes and potentially saving $4.1 billion annually;
 Improving manufacturing process efficiency to save 50% or more on operating costs;
 Reducing use of and reliance on petrochemicals;
 Using biofuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 52% or more;
 Decreasing water usage and waste generation; and
 Tapping into the full potential of traditional biomass waste products.

Feed the World

Biotech improves crop insect resistance, enhances crop herbicide tolerance and facilitates the use of more
environmentally sustainable farming practices. Biotech is helping to feed the world by:

 Generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs;


 Lowering volumes of agricultural chemicals required by crops-limiting the run-off of these products into the
environment;
 Using biotech crops that need fewer applications of pesticides and that allow farmers to reduce tilling farmland;
 Developing crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies;
 Producing foods free of allergens and toxins such as mycotoxin; and
 Improving food and crop oil content to help improve cardiovascular health.
 Biotechnology is the use of biological systems found in organisms or the use of the living organisms
themselves to make technological advances and adapt those technologies to various different fields.
These include applications in various fields from agricultural practice to the medical sector. It does not
only include applications in fields that involve the living, but any other field where the information
obtained from the biological aspect of an organism can be applied.
 Biotechnology is particularly vital when it comes to the development of miniscule and chemical tools as
many on the tools biotechnology uses exist at the cellular level. In a bid to understand more regarding
biotechnology, here are its types, examples and its applications.

Types of Biotechnology

1. Medical Biotechnology
Examples

 Vaccines

 Antibiotics

2. Agricultural Biotechnology

Examples

 Pest Resistant Crops

 Plant and Animal Breeding

Applications of Biotechnology
1. Nutrient Supplementation

2. Abiotic Stress Resistance

3. Industrial Biotechnology

4. Strength Fibres

5. Biofuels

6. Healthcare

B. Genetically Modified Organism

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA
of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign
genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of
genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.
What is a gene?

Every plant and animal is made of cells, each of which has a center called a nucleus. Inside every nucleus there
are strings of DNA, half of which is normally inherited from the mother and half from the father. Short
sequences of DNA are called genes. These genes operate in complex networks that are finely regulated to
enable the processes of living organisms to happen in the right place and at the right time.

How is genetic engineering done?

Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a
different species, genetic engineers must force the DNA from one organism into another. Their methods
include:

 Using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
 Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
 Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
 Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA
into the sperm through these holes.

Is genetic engineering precise?

The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any
accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an
organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for
example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the
creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

But haven’t growers been grafting trees, breeding animals, and hybridizing seeds for years?

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.

In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to
mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in
breeding, the offspring are usually infertile—a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a
mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced
fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to
obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even
humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:
 Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein
for use in bulletproof vests.
 Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
 Jellyfish genes lit up pigs’ noses in the dark.
 Artic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.

Field trials have included:

 Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)


 Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
 Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
 Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
 Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
 Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)
 Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
 Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many
potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete
information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the
market too soon.

Examples of GMOs Resulting from Agricultural Biotechnology

Genetically Conferred Trait Example Organism Genetic Change

APPROVED COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS

Herbicide tolerance Soybean Glyphosate herbicide (Roundup) tolerance


conferred by expression of a glyphosate-
tolerant form of the plant enzyme 5-
enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate
synthase (EPSPS) isolated from the soil
bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens,
strain CP4

Insect resistance Corn Resistance to insect pests, specifically the


European corn borer, through expression of
the insecticidal protein Cry1Ab from
Bacillus thuringiensis

Altered fatty acid composition Canola High laurate levels achieved by inserting the
gene for ACP thioesterase from the
California bay tree Umbellularia californica

Virus resistance Plum Resistance to plum pox virus conferred by


insertion of a coat protein (CP) gene from
the virus

PRODUCTS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT

Vitamin enrichment Rice Three genes for the manufacture of beta-


carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, in the
endosperm of the rice prevent its removal
(from husks) during milling

Vaccines Tobacco Hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg)


produced in transgenic tobacco induces
immune response when injected into mice

Oral vaccines Maize Fusion protein (F) from Newcastle disease


virus (NDV) expressed in corn seeds induces
an immune response when fed to chickens

Faster maturation Coho salmon A type 1 growth hormone gene injected


into fertilized fish eggs results in 6.2%
retention of the vector at one year of age,
as well as significantly increased growth
rates

Potential GMO Applications

Risks and Controversies Surrounding the Use of GMOs

 Unintended Impacts on Other Species: The Bt Corn Controversy

 Unintended Economic Consequences

 GMOs and the General Public: Philosophical and Religious Concerns

C. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (BSP)

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (BSP) is an international treaty under the United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD). The BSP is an international environmental agreement that regulates the
transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs). LMOs are viable products of agricultural
biotechnology, such as seed, which increases the yield of and provides protection for crops, like corn and
soybeans, and other staples for food, feed, fiber and fuel, and grain.

The BSP came into force on 11 September 2003. At present, 171 countries are Parties to the BSP, including
Mexico, European Union countries and most African, Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean countries. Other
Latin American and Central American Parties include: Belize, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Many of the BSP Parties – which have voluntarily undertaken the
legal obligations of the Protocol – are still working toward complete implementation of the BSP into national
law over 10 years after it entered into force. Argentina, Australia, Canada, Russia, and the United States –major
agricultural exporting countries – have not joined the Protocol.

The BSP has the potential to encourage innovation, development, technology transfer and capacity-building for
agricultural biotechnology, while supporting global conservation and sustainable agriculture goals. The BSP:

 Establishes rules and procedures for the international trade of agricultural biotechnology products – referred to
as LMOs – including products such as agricultural commodities, seeds, and research materials, in order to
protect the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
 Requires that exporters of LMOs seek governmental “advanced informed agreement” before shipping LMOs for
intentional introduction into the environment of importing countries;
 Requires government decision-making on imports to be based on sound, scientific risk assessments and for
results of such assessments to be made available through a Biosafety Clearing House;
 Requires LMOs shipped to countries that are Parties to the BSP (made it a law in their own countries), for
contained use, intentional introduction into the environment, or for direct use for food, feed, or processing, to
be identified in accompanying documentation as specified in the Protocol.
 Provides guidance on environmental risk assessment of LMOs.