Biotechnology in the food chain

Related tags Dna Biotechnology

Animal biotechnology applications in food production are about to
take off, according to a recent report from market analysts
Research and Markets. The report analyses how transgenic
technologies are being used in a number of ways, such as improving
milk production and the meat in farm animals.

The report also touches on nuclear transfer technology, which is becoming an important and preferred method for cloning animals.

The findings of the report are likely to fuel the current debate over biotechnology. Some scientists argue that the introduction of foreign genetic material raises additional problems for the regulating processes and the difficulties of predicting and evaluating welfare impact on the animals involved.

In the US, the National Research Council recently released a report on the safety of animal biotechnology in which it commented on the potential environmental risks and food safety concerns from cloned and genetically modified animals. The committee's greatest concern was the potential risk for natural wildlife from escaping genetically modified animals, such as modified fish that could be more competitive then the natural varieties.

Nonetheless, the Research and Market report shows that animal genetics is being increasingly used to manage genetic disorders and improve animal breeding, but there are fears that not enough is known about the implications of such practices. Genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics are also being increasingly applied to animal biotechnology.

Proponents argue that biotechnology has potential applications in the management of several animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The most important biotechnology-based products consist of vaccines, particularly genetically engineered or DNA vaccines.

Molecular diagnosis is also assuming an important place in veterinary practice. Polymerase chain reaction and its modifications are considered to be important. Fluorescent in situ hybridisation and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays are also being widely used. Newer biochip-based technologies and biosensors are also finding their way in veterinary diagnostics.

According to the report, share of biotechnology-based products and services is currently estimated to be $2.8 billion out of the total animal healthcare market of $18 billion, and this is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by the year 2005 in a total animal healthcare market of $23 billion.

The report​ from Research and Markets identifies and profiles 72 companies currently involved in animal biotechnology. According to researchers, these are a mix of animal healthcare companies and biotechnology companies.

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