Biotechnology

March 5, 2008

I really like that word: “biotechnology”. Rolls of the tongue quite easily, doesn’t it? The word itself describes everything I am striving for and every reason I am at KGI (more on this later). But a lot bugs me about that word also. Namely, I don’t like its current meaning and the current connotations that come along with it in society. Right now, long time friends will ask me what I am studying in grad school and I will say “biotechnology” then I have to add an immediate, “but I am not interested in pharmaceuticals or medical devices or genetically modified crops.” Because those are exactly the things they think of now when they hear the word biotechnology. Curing disease and feeding people are noble pursuits for sure but for me the word should mean something more. I can then go on to explain that I am interested in biofuels or industrial enzymes or biodegradable plastics but even that is not the whole truth. Sure, in the short term I will probably be working for a company in one of those sectors because those are the short term applications of what truly interests me but that is far from the end of it. I can even say something more general about using the molecular machinery of life to solve the greatest challenges of sustainability in modern industrial society but even that is not the whole truth for me. Words like that make great speech writing and are good for company mission statements but when you really get down to it for me, biotechnology means a promise of something on a much more fundamental level. It’s not even an application or technical level but a philosophical or sociological one.

Think about the word, bio…technology. It’s the technology of life. And the reason I am at KGI is to become a biotechnologist, one who studies the technology of life and can apply that technology at their own discretion and with the requisite humility. I look to nature to not just teach me the way to exist, or to just survive, or to even tread lightly upon this earth but I look to nature to teach me how to live well. I look to nature to teach me the biotechnology to live bountifully and in balance with all others and to be able to create great complexity and elegance with simple basic rules. I look to nature to teach me enough about biotechnology to forget words like waste or pollution or trash for real biotechnology has no use for those words when there is a biotechnological element for every niche and every output is a nutrient fueling something else in the system. I look for nature to teach me about its systems, from my own body to the microbes under my feet to the global ecosystem as a whole, and how I can create the things I need to live a fulfilling life that fit into those systems with grace and dignity. Biotechnology to me means no less than the technology of living life well.

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2 Responses to “Biotechnology”

  1. pikardi Says:

    yeah.. I also like “biotechnology”.. remembers me a better future… 🙂

    http://www.meetscience.net/e-books.html

    Regards, and congratulations for your blog..


  2. Thanks for the sharing. Save time from scrolling the mouse.
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