Ciencia y cooperación al desarrollo. ¿Cuál es el papel de la biotecnología?

Sanz Gutiérrez, Almudena (2019). Ciencia y cooperación al desarrollo. ¿Cuál es el papel de la biotecnología?. Proyecto Fin de Carrera / Trabajo Fin de Grado, E.T.S. de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas (UPM), Madrid.


Title: Ciencia y cooperación al desarrollo. ¿Cuál es el papel de la biotecnología?
  • Sanz Gutiérrez, Almudena
  • Rodríguez Palenzuela, Pablo
Item Type: Final Project
Degree: Grado en Biotecnología
Date: November 2019
Faculty: E.T.S. de Ingeniería Agronómica, Alimentaria y de Biosistemas (UPM)
Department: Biotecnología - Biología Vegetal
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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We live in a world where we can communicate instantly with people living millions of kilometers away and have tools to edit genetic material, but still we have not ended the terrible disgrace that is poverty. Although the percentage of people living in conditions of extreme poverty is diminishing since more than 40 years and global inequality is starting to decrease too, tools to fight against poverty and inequality and their main consequences are urgently required, being science one of the many elements that contribute to development. There is a correlation between the level of development of a country and its scientific and technical capacities, because economy not only grows due to capital accumulation, but also because of the ability of a country to create and use knowledge. In fact, more developed countries invest a higher percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP) in research and development. Biotechnology in particular, as a technical science that looks for and develop useful and practical applications based on biological processes, gains a huge importance that is shown among the chapters of this work, which talk about ending hunger, improving health and being environmentally friendly. Biotechnology applications for agriculture are relevant in development because of two reasons: the world’s population has more than doubled its numbers since the 1960s and is predicted to grow much more in the next years, and agriculture is an important economical factor in poor countries, accounting for half the employment and around 25% of the GDP. That is why they are being used to solve problems such as pests, weeds and disease control, crop yield improvement and malnutrition. Bt technology, which helps with pest control by making plants able to produce a toxin that kills harmful insects, and herbicide tolerant crops are useful techniques already being used in many Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, as well as droughtresistant crops. This kind of biotechnological applications have increased yield because they fight against yield-reducing elements, but the new trend is to develop crops that yield more due to their own traits, such as Nitrogen Use Efficient crops, which are still under development. Biofortification is the development of crops with higher nutritional value in order to fight malnutrition, specially in low-income countries, and many biofortificated crops are already being produced in many countries around the world, though they must overcome high social and legal barriers. These barriers have made some of them unable to fulfill their purpose, being the main example the golden rice. Global life expectancy has been increasing for the last 25 years as well as the inequality of it among countries decreasing, but the difference between the high-income and low-income countries is still more than 17 years. When comparing the main death causes globally and in the high-income and low-income countries, it is seen that communicable, maternal perinatal and nutritional conditions account for half the deaths in low-income countries and less than 7% of the deaths in high-income countries. In this work a review of how biotechnology applications have already and can potentially help to overcome this inequality is made by talking about prevention, diagnosis and treatment methods in some specially relevant diseases. These diseases are diarrhoeal diseases, second death cause in low-income countries and almost inexistent in high-income countries; tuberculosis, which is the 10th global death cause but only relevant in low-income countries; and HIV/AIDS and malaria, which are important death causes in low-income countries while being globally irrelevant. In terms of environment, 2017 was one of the three warmest years ever registered and the 2013-2017 period has registered the warmest average temperature ever. Climate change, mainly caused by developed countries, is causing a dramatic environment degradation that will affect more the undeveloped countries. That is why this work reviews how biotechnology applications can help fighting against the main consequences of climate change and building a more environmentally friendly and sustainable world. Finally, the main conclusions are that biotechnologies present many advantages compared to conventional technologies but in many cases have not been brought to the areas where they would be more useful due to their high costs or social discouragement, being important to make biotechnology understandable for everybody in order for it to play its role in development. The biotechnological products that are already a reality have brought many economical as well as social benefits, being the problem that these benefits have mainly affected the already developed richer countries. That is why the fight for scientific empowerment in less-developed countries should be carried out for them to be able to participate in the global knowledge transference more evenly and develop new and more locally appropriate technologies. While biotechnology is not the solution for poverty and inequality and it still has some crucial disadvantages, it gives many useful tools that have already given a lot of benefits and should, therefore, continue to be developed.

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Item ID: 57816
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Deposited by: Biblioteca ETSI Agrónomos
Deposited on: 31 Jan 2020 08:35
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2020 08:35
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