Report – ENVR206B – History Assignment


Part 1 – 1830 – Proteins were discovered.

Proteins were first named and described by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1838 (Britannica 2009).

To most people, the question of where life comes from has been formed more than once.  All living organisms from microbes to humans share two kinds of biomolecules; nucleic acids and proteins (Hickman, et al. 1997). The discovery of proteins and how it is so simply built, by only four or five different elements (C, H, O, N and usually S), yet with 20 different known building blocks, called amino acids, the complexity it can create is vast (Knox, et al. 1999).

Today, proteins are being used in biotechnology for many different things, ranging from the environment side of remediation, reclamation, to the clinical research side of food preparation, stem cells, viral diseases, epidemics/pandemics, pharmaceuticals and much more.

Simply put, without the knowledge of proteins, much of our civilisation would not exist.

Part 2 – Two events that contributed significantly to Biotechnology in the last four years.

First Event

Australia, considered by many to be the ultimate challenge in conserving the rare species and its environment, especially with a few large failures in pest management and introduced species previously (I.e. the Cane Toad – Bufo Marinus).

Now, Cotton Australia, has with biotechnology, or genetically modified cotton varieties, made a major environmental success for the Australian cotton industry. Over the last 10 years the introduction of biotechnology has seen a 90% reduction in the amount of pesticides required and has become an important tool in the farming system (Anon. 2009).

Using their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, biotechnology is one of many environmentally responsible techniques used to controlling pests. In over 10years of use of biotechnology in Australia within the cotton industry, there has not been any cross contamination, super weeds, market failure or any other environmental or human health issue. (Anon. 2009).

Second Event

An event perhaps not as everyone else sees it. But as we all know, behind all research there must be funding. Without money we will not reach our goals.

In the middle of the summer of 2006, the world second richest man & the worlds’ most gifted investor according the Forbes Magazine, Warren Buffet, announced that he would donate US $37 Billion to a foundation of the richest man in the world, Bill Gates. (BBC, 2006), almost doubling the value of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is very active in both giving grants to institutions but also getting the work done on the ground (Anon 2. (2009).

To mention a few environmental biotech areas they have given grants to:

  • Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation for enhancing the nutrition value of harvests in arid and semi-arid areas of Africa.
  • Pondicherry Biotech – that noticed that some people are born with natural resistance to the HIV virus through a genetic mutation in the CCR5 gene. Now they are trying to target disruption of this gene to accomplish permanent resistance to HIV.
  • A few community colleges in Seattle received a million dollar grant each for setting up an environmental biotechnology programs.


Anon (2009)

Anon 2. (2009)

BBC News (2006)

Britannica (2009)

Hickman, C.P., Roberts, L.S. and Larson, A. (1997) Biology of Animals. McGraw-Hill Book Companies Inc. P. 11-12.

Knox, B., Ladiges, P. and Evans, B. (1999) Biology. McGraw-Hill Book Company Australia. P. 19-22.

Sumner, JB. (1926). “The isolation and crystallization of the enzyme urease. Preliminary paper“. Journal of Biological Chemistry 69: 435–41.

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