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From garbage to gold, how bio enzyme usage can unlock a greener future?

As we figure out how to sort out organic and non-organic food on the basis of chemicals and fertilizer it has, scientists vouch for bio-enzymes as a remarkable redemption of the harmful impact of chemicals on food. The percolation of harmful insecticides and pesticides into food streams of other species has long been red-flagged by environmentalists, agriculturists and civil societies. The use of bio enzymes in agriculture, industry and other sectors poses great potential, while products created from these microbial organisms can solve the garbage crisis and help create a more sustainable future.

What are bio enzymes?

Bio enzymes are single-celled bacteria species, which is completely harmless to humans. It is present in the environment and soil and since it is made of only one cell, it cannot interact with its surroundings. The most effective application of bio enzymes is in the cleaning process of land areas, water bodies, and even industrial garbage.

In other words, bio enzymes are a form of protein which are produced by microorganisms such as yeast, algae, fungi and bacteria. They are brought into use to break down organic matter and create useful products. When an organic compound comes in contact with bio enzymes, the former binds the latter molecules and breaks them apart. The resultant molecules are released into the solution allowing interaction among the molecules and forming a new chemical bond. This helps in the easier and faster breakdown of organic matter.

The many advantages of using bio enzymes include no toxic residue and being a safer option as compared to conventional chemicals. They not only enhance photosynthesis in plants but also repel any side effects. Moreover, they result in increased fruiting and flowering in plants.

Why experts are vouching for mainstreaming bio enzymes?

At a recently concluded G20 event in Mumbai, India, several experts voiced their opinion of the increased use of bio enzymes. The session titled, G20 Summit on Environment Sustainability & Bioenzyme was dedicated to highlighting the importance of using biocatalysts in agriculture and industry for sustainable living. Dr Sharad P. Kale, Former Head of the Technology Transfer Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), while speaking at the event, stressed the use of bio enzymes and how their usage in every household can contribute to solving the waste disposal crisis. He shared an example of his own research, wherein a plant has been surviving in a glass jar for the past 20 odd years, with the same amount of 600 ml of water, in perfect condition and living organisms. The experiment, he said shows the importance of living microorganisms and how they can help sustain an ecosystem with the same amount of natural resources and factors. Similarly, on a wider sphere, bio enzymes and channelizing of microorganism cultures can not only help in cleaning the environment by eating out the waste out of landfills but can also help develop sustainable agriculture.

Wider use of bio enzymes

According to the research paper, A Broader View: Microbial Enzymes and Their Relevance in In Industries, Medicine, and Beyond, enzymes, which are produced by living organisms, are biological substances or macromolecules that act as catalysts for specific biochemical reactions. Similar to chemical catalysts, they help accelerate biological and biochemical reactions both inside and outside of cells, and are commonly referred to as “biocatalysts”. Enzymes have a wide range of applications in various industries such as food, textile, medicine, dairy, and more. With advancements in modern biotechnology and protein engineering, we now have the ability to introduce or modify genes that play a crucial role in producing these novel enzymes.

Explaining the various categories of bio enzymes, an article published in the journal, Trends in Food Science & Technology highlights how seaweed as a form of bio enzymes has a larger role to play in the environment. According to the article, seaweeds are a diverse and abundant group of photosynthetic macroalgae that can be found in oceans worldwide. It is becoming increasingly recognized that they are important sources of bioactive compounds, which possess a variety of biological activities that could have potential contributions to functional food and nutraceutical industries.

Polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, and proteins are among the bioactive compounds found in seaweeds, making them a valuable source of these compounds. To efficiently extract and digest these value-added bioactive compounds from seaweeds, advanced enzymatic processing is a key trend. The potential of these bioactive compounds for various functional food applications is being increasingly recognized, particularly in relation to prebiotic supplements.

While the uses and benefits of bio enzymes are being widely discussed across international forums, streamlining of such products is still not prevalent. Educating communities and the populace, in general, is something which can further promote the usage of such products for a greener future.

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