Biotechnology comes from the words bios meaning life, teuchos meaning tools, and logos meaning science, so it can be said that biotechnology is a science that studies the application of biological principles. According to the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), biotechnology is a combination of natural and engineering sciences aimed at improving the application of living organisms, cells, parts of living organisms, and/or molecular analogs to the production of goods and services.
Biotechnology is divided into 2 namely conventional biotechnology and modern biotechnology. Conventional biotechnology is biotechnology that uses microorganisms directly to produce a product, this conventional biotechnological process is better known as fermentation. Fermentation is a process of energy production without oxygen (anaerobic), but as technology advances, the term fermentation expands to include any process involving microorganisms to produce a product, either primary metabolites or secondary metabolites. Examples of fermented products include yogurt, cheese, beer, tape, and tempeh. In agriculture, conventional biotechnology can be used to produce compost, manure, and biogas using microorganisms through a fermentation process. In addition, this fermentation process is also used to increase the retail value of an agricultural product, for example, processed cheese, kimchi, ribbon, alcoholic beverages, and many other products that use microorganisms in the fermentation process.
Modern biotechnology is closely related to genetic engineering. In the field of agriculture, biotechnology aims to increase productivity and improve the properties of a plant at the genetic level. Overall, biotechnology in agriculture aims to maintain food security.
The Industrial Age 4.0 is currently a technology age in which almost all sectors are embracing technologies as they are currently emerging, namely mobile connectivity, artificial intelligence, internet of things, next-generation robotics, 3D printing, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, advanced materials, and biotechnology. . Speed and production increase are two things agricultural sector needs in this era, so digitalization, biotechnology, and process speed are the keys to the agricultural revolution in current 4.0 era.
The application of biotechnology in agriculture can help accelerate seed production, improve plant traits, and produce new plant species. All of this can be produced using genetic engineering and tissue culture. Genetic engineering is an attempt to manipulate an organism’s genes for a specific purpose, by removing or adding a gene to create an organism with the desired characteristics. Genetically modified organisms are often referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Examples of agricultural biotechnology in the form of GMO crops that surround us are:
- Sweetcorn. The sweet corn we consume today is genetically engineered corn. In candy corn, the sugars it contains are designed not to be converted into starch, so it stays sweet and juicy.
- California papaya, this papaya is also the result of genetic engineering by a professor of the IPB, which has the advantage of a sweeter taste and rapid fruiting.
- Golden rice, this rice plant inserts the beta-carotene-producing gene from the carrot plant, so this rice has vitamin A in addition to carbohydrates. 4. Cotton is resistant to Bt toxin, this cotton plant has the Bt toxin Gene inserted to make it safe from pests. 5. Imported soybeans, which are the raw materials for tempeh and tofu, have been introduced with the EPSPS gene, so these imported soybeans are resistant to glyphosate herbicides. In addition, another advantage is that the price is cheaper since it is always available in the market.
In addition to genetic engineering, tissue culture also plays a role in the field of agricultural biotechnology. Tissue culture is used to propagate genetically engineered plants and also to provide superior, 24/7 available seeds that cannot be covered by conventional plant propagation. In addition, tissue culture is also used to produce plant seeds in a relatively short time and large quantities regardless of the season or weather conditions.
Tissue culture per se is not a science but a very important technique in the field of agricultural biotechnology. Tissue culture is a technique for growing plants from plant parts, which may be in the form of cells, tissues, or organs, which are planted in growth media under aseptic environmental conditions so that they grow into whole plants. The growth media used in tissue culture contain macro, micro, and vitamins needed by both plants and those in the soil.
Other biotechnology applications can be used to create sustainable agriculture by reducing agriculture’s dependence on chemicals. The application of this biotechnology can take the form of composting, bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides, bio-herbicides, and bio-insecticides. Various types of biotechnology research continue to be conducted to find agricultural products that can increase production or provide a solution to other agricultural problems.