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Title: Bettering Humanity through Biology
Authors: Mota, Manuel
Editors: M. Burguete & J.-P. Connerade.
Keywords: Bettering
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: Biology is arguably referred to as the “science of the XXIth century”. This prestigious title intrinsically contains a huge responsibility. For many centuries, Biology has contributed directly or indirectly to bettering humankind, although its obvious and objective effects have only been made evident since the XIXth century. There are three main domains to which Biology has made significant contributions: Agriculture, Environment and Medicine. Several scientific disciplines connected to Biology have been involved such as Genetics (mendelian and molecular), Cell Biology, Ecology, Microbiology, and what was known for a long time as “Natural History” (today we would include these roughly within Botany and Zoology). Agronomy, a relatively recent science, has made a tremendous impact by providing knowledge on growing plants and animals, and developing new and better crops. One specific moment in time, following WW II, known as the “Green Revolution” benefitted humanity immensely, by combating hunger in countries such as India and Mexico. The “father” of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, was awarded the 1970 Peace Nobel Prize for such achievements. In the XXIth century, biologists and agronomists are working hard to develop new and better crops to feed almost 8 billion people. In the medical field, the contributions are inumerable, from the discovery and development of vaccines (Jenner and Pasteur), to antibiotics (Fleming) and combatting diseases. This has increased the average life expectancy of humans from around 30-40 in the beginning of the XXth century, to a present value of around 75 (depending on the country). These achievements have been recognized by society, through dozens of Nobel Prizes in Medicine. All these successes have been made possible through Biology. In the past 30-40 years, numerous voices have been raised alerting for the environmental degradation of our planet, its land and oceans, its biomes and ecosystems. We have been depleting our planet at an incredible rate. But today, biologists and environmental scientists have the knowledge and tools to better the planet. We know how the ecosystems function and what causes harm them. There is still time, together with a strong public opinion, to halt the damage. Once again, Biology is a principal actor.
Type: bookPart
Appears in Collections:BIO - Publicações - Capítulos de Livros

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