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Biotechnology: A beacon of hope in the fight against climate change and environmental pollution by Upashana Siddique Ahona

Updated: 6 days ago

Our world is defined by unprecedented environmental challenges, and the urgency to seek innovative solutions has never been greater. Gradually, the sustainability of our environment is becoming imbalanced. Climate change and environmental pollution pose a great threat to ecosystems, biodiversity, human health, sustainability of life on earth etc. As we try to cope with the consequences, we must approach transformative ways to overcome these challenges. In my opinion, biotechnology has the potential to address these challenges as well as give innovative solutions.

Biotechnology is a dynamic field that utilizes the power of living organisms and biological systems to develop products and technologies. It is based on the principles of biology, genetics, chemistry, and engineering. At present, it is making a remarkable development in agriculture, healthcare, industry, and environmental sustainability.

In this essay, we will explore the evolutionary role of biotechnology in addressing various environmental challenges. From renewable biofuels to microbial bioremediation, biotechnology assures a resilient environment. Here we will mainly focus on four key areas: Biofuels, CO2 reduction, Bioremediations to recover rivers and climate-resilient crops. Surveying these domains, the impact of biotechnology in securing environmental sustainability will be vivid.

As the world works to move away from non-renewable resources towards renewable resources, biofuels provide a potential remedy. Biofuels are obtained from biomass resources like algae, feedstocks, forestry residues, crop residues and other organic wastes. Biotechnology helps develop enzymes that break down complex biomass into fermentable sugars which are further converted into biofuels like ethanol, bio gasoline or biodiesel. Biofuels release CO2 that was recently absorbed from the atmosphere which makes them carbon neutral or even carbon negative, they also have lower emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and other heavy metals, meaning they emit less greenhouse gases and thus minimize climate change. The resources of biomass are commonly available in the rural areas of our country. By producing biofuels, we can not only benefit our environment but also boost our economy.

The main reason for climate change is the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Biotechnology offers diverse strategies to reduce CO2, for example, CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization), BECCS (Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage) and enhanced carbon sequestration. Through CCU microorganisms and enzymes can be developed to capture CO2 from industrial sources and convert it into biofuels or bioplastics via processes like microbial fermentation and enzymatic catalysis. BECCS blends bio-mass-based energy manufacturing with CCS technologies to remove CO2 while producing renewable energy. Biotechnology can enhance carbon sequestration by genetically modifying plants or microorganisms that absorb comparatively more CO2.

The rivers of our country are on the verge of dying, bioremediation is an effective solution to this problem. The process requires biological organisms to remove or neutralize contaminants. These contaminants could be heavy metals, sewage, organic compounds, pesticides, and other harmful substances. We could add nutrients or chemicals that stimulate the growth of microorganisms capable of degrading contaminants, this process is called biostimulation or we could introduce genetically modified microbes that can degrade specific pollutants, for example: pseudomonas bacteria can degrade hydrocarbons, this process is called bioaugmentation.

The recent heatwave in Bangladesh is a stark reminder of the terrible consequences of climate change. This threatens our agriculture leading to crop damage, reduced yields, food insecurity etc. Moreover, it disrupts the ability of plants to photosynthesize effectively causing the reduction of O2 and increase of CO2 in our environment and thus aggravating climate change. Adopting climate-resilient crops offers a promising solution. These crops are engineered through biotechnology to possess traits like heat tolerance, water efficiency, drought resistance etc. They can maintain productivity even in extreme conditions, thus protecting agriculture and stabilizing atmospheric CO2 levels. Climate-resilient crops ensure food security and by meeting the demand even strengthen our economy.

While biotechnology offers innovative solutions like biofuels, CO2 reduction strategies, bioremediations, GMO crops and so on, our individual actions should speak in addressing these challenges. Despite the societal bindings associated with biotechnology, its potential to offer sustainable solutions cannot be overlooked. At this burning stage implementing proper action is the only way to secure our existence. 



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