BIOTECHNOLOGY is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use" (UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Art. 2). Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with the (related) fields of bioengineering , biomedical engineering , biomanufacturing , molecular engineering , etc.
For thousands of years, humankind has used biotechnology in agriculture , food production , and medicine . The term is largely believed to have been coined in 1919 by Hungarian engineer Károly Ereky . In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, biotechnology has expanded to include new and diverse sciences such as genomics , recombinant gene techniques, applied immunology , and development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests .
* 1 Definitions * 2 History
* 3 Examples
* 4 Learning * 5 See also * 6 References and notes * 7 Further reading * 8 External links
The wide concept of "biotech" or "biotechnology" encompasses a wide
range of procedures for modifying living organisms according to human
purposes, going back to domestication of animals, cultivation of the
plants, and "improvements" to these through breeding programs that
employ artificial selection and hybridization . Modern usage also
includes genetic engineering as well as cell and tissue culture
American Chemical Society defines biotechnology as
the application of biological organisms, systems, or processes by
various industries to learning about the science of life and the
improvement of the value of materials and organisms such as
pharmaceuticals, crops, and livestock. As per European Federation of
* bioinformatics , a new brand of computer science * bioprocess engineering * biorobotics * chemical engineering
Conversely, modern biological sciences (including even concepts such
as molecular ecology ) are intimately entwined and heavily dependent
on the methods developed through biotechnology and what is commonly
thought of as the life sciences industry.
Although not normally what first comes to mind, many forms of human-derived agriculture clearly fit the broad definition of "'utilizing a biotechnological system to make products". Indeed, the cultivation of plants may be viewed as the earliest biotechnological enterprise.
These processes also were included in early fermentation of beer .
These processes were introduced in early
Before the time of
For thousands of years, humans have used selective breeding to improve production of crops and livestock to use them for food. In selective breeding, organisms with desirable characteristics are mated to produce offspring with the same characteristics. For example, this technique was used with corn to produce the largest and sweetest crops.
In the early twentieth century scientists gained a greater
understanding of microbiology and explored ways of manufacturing
specific products. In 1917,
The field of modern biotechnology is generally thought of as having
been born in 1971 when Paul Berg's (Stanford) experiments in gene
splicing had early success. Herbert W. Boyer (Univ. Calif. at San
Francisco) and Stanley N. Cohen (Stanford) significantly advanced the
new technology in 1972 by transferring genetic material into a
bacterium, such that the imported material would be reproduced. The
commercial viability of a biotechnology industry was significantly
expanded on June 16, 1980, when the
United States Supreme Court
Revenue in the industry is expected to grow by 12.9% in 2008. Another factor influencing the biotechnology sector's success is improved intellectual property rights legislation—and enforcement—worldwide, as well as strengthened demand for medical and pharmaceutical products to cope with an ageing, and ailing, U.S. population.
Rising demand for biofuels is expected to be good news for the biotechnology sector, with the Department of Energy estimating ethanol usage could reduce U.S. petroleum-derived fuel consumption by up to 30% by 2030. The biotechnology sector has allowed the U.S. farming industry to rapidly increase its supply of corn and soybeans—the main inputs into biofuels—by developing genetically modified seeds which are resistant to pests and drought. By boosting farm productivity, biotechnology plays a crucial role in ensuring that biofuel production targets are met.
A rose plant that began as cells grown in a tissue culture
For example, one application of biotechnology is the directed use of
organisms for the manufacture of organic products (examples include
beer and milk products). Another example is using naturally present
bacteria by the mining industry in bioleaching .
A series of derived terms have been coined to identify several branches of biotechnology; for example:
* BIOINFORMATICS is an interdisciplinary field which addresses biological problems using computational techniques, and makes the rapid organization as well as analysis of biological data possible. The field may also be referred to as computational biology, and can be defined as, "conceptualizing biology in terms of molecules and then applying informatics techniques to understand and organize the information associated with these molecules, on a large scale." Bioinformatics plays a key role in various areas, such as functional genomics , structural genomics , and proteomics , and forms a key component in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector. * BLUE BIOTECHNOLOGY is a term that has been used to describe the marine and aquatic applications of biotechnology, but its use is relatively rare. * GREEN BIOTECHNOLOGY is biotechnology applied to agricultural processes. An example would be the selection and domestication of plants via micropropagation . Another example is the designing of transgenic plants to grow under specific environments in the presence (or absence) of chemicals. One hope is that green biotechnology might produce more environmentally friendly solutions than traditional industrial agriculture . An example of this is the engineering of a plant to express a pesticide , thereby ending the need of external application of pesticides. An example of this would be Bt corn . Whether or not green biotechnology products such as this are ultimately more environmentally friendly is a topic of considerable debate. * RED BIOTECHNOLOGY is applied to medical processes. Some examples are the designing of organisms to produce antibiotics , and the engineering of genetic cures through genetic manipulation . * WHITE BIOTECHNOLOGY, also known as industrial biotechnology, is biotechnology applied to industrial processes. An example is the designing of an organism to produce a useful chemical. Another example is the using of enzymes as industrial catalysts to either produce valuable chemicals or destroy hazardous/polluting chemicals. White biotechnology tends to consume less in resources than traditional processes used to produce industrial goods.
The investment and economic output of all of these types of applied biotechnologies is termed as "bioeconomy ".
In medicine, modern biotechnology finds applications in areas such as pharmaceutical drug discovery and production, pharmacogenomics , and genetic testing (or genetic screening). DNA microarray chip – some can do as many as a million blood tests at once
Pharmacogenomics (a combination of pharmacology and genomics ) is the technology that analyses how genetic makeup affects an individual's response to drugs. It deals with the influence of genetic variation on drug response in patients by correlating gene expression or single-nucleotide polymorphisms with a drug's efficacy or toxicity . By doing so, pharmacogenomics aims to develop rational means to optimize drug therapy, with respect to the patients' genotype , to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal adverse effects . Such approaches promise the advent of "personalized medicine "; in which drugs and drug combinations are optimized for each individual's unique genetic makeup. Computer-generated image of insulin hexamers highlighting the threefold symmetry , the zinc ions holding it together, and the histidine residues involved in zinc binding.
Genetic testing allows the genetic diagnosis of vulnerabilities to inherited diseases , and can also be used to determine a child's parentage (genetic mother and father) or in general a person's ancestry . In addition to studying chromosomes to the level of individual genes, genetic testing in a broader sense includes biochemical tests for the possible presence of genetic diseases, or mutant forms of genes associated with increased risk of developing genetic disorders. Genetic testing identifies changes in chromosomes , genes, or proteins. Most of the time, testing is used to find changes that are associated with inherited disorders. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person's chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder . As of 2011 several hundred genetic tests were in use. Since genetic testing may open up ethical or psychological problems, genetic testing is often accompanied by genetic counseling .
Genetically modified crops ("GM crops", or "biotech crops") are
plants used in agriculture , the
Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, stressful environmental conditions, resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide ), reduction of spoilage, or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents , biofuels , and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation .
Farmers have widely adopted GM technology. Between 1996 and 2011, the total surface area of land cultivated with GM crops had increased by a factor of 94, from 17,000 square kilometers (4,200,000 acres) to 1,600,000 km2 (395 million acres). 10% of the world's crop lands were planted with GM crops in 2010. As of 2011, 11 different transgenic crops were grown commercially on 395 million acres (160 million hectares) in 29 countries such as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, India, Canada, China, Paraguay, Pakistan, South Africa, Uruguay, Bolivia, Australia, Philippines, Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Mexico and Spain.
Genetically modified foods are foods produced from organisms that
have had specific changes introduced into their
There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction. Nonetheless, members of the public are much less likely than scientists to perceive GM foods as safe. The legal and regulatory status of GM foods varies by country, with some nations banning or restricting them, and others permitting them with widely differing degrees of regulation.
GM crops also provide a number of ecological benefits, if not used in excess. However, opponents have objected to GM crops per se on several grounds, including environmental concerns, whether food produced from GM crops is safe, whether GM crops are needed to address the world's food needs, and economic concerns raised by the fact these organisms are subject to intellectual property law.
Industrial biotechnology (known mainly in Europe as white biotechnology) is the application of biotechnology for industrial purposes, including industrial fermentation . It includes the practice of using cells such as micro-organisms , or components of cells like enzymes , to generate industrially useful products in sectors such as chemicals, food and feed, detergents, paper and pulp, textiles and biofuels . In doing so, biotechnology uses renewable raw materials and may contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and moving away from a petrochemical-based economy.
The environment can be affected by biotechnologies, both positively and adversely. Vallero and others have argued that the difference between beneficial biotechnology (e.g. bioremediation to clean up an oil spill or hazard chemical leak) versus the adverse effects stemming from biotechnological enterprises (e.g. flow of genetic material from transgenic organisms into wild strains) can be seen as applications and implications, respectively. Cleaning up environmental wastes is an example of an application of environmental biotechnology; whereas loss of biodiversity or loss of containment of a harmful microbe are examples of environmental implications of biotechnology.
Main articles: Regulation of genetic engineering and Regulation of the release of genetic modified organisms
The regulation of genetic engineering concerns approaches taken by governments to assess and manage the risks associated with the use of genetic engineering technology, and the development and release of genetically modified organisms (GMO), including genetically modified crops and genetically modified fish . There are differences in the regulation of GMOs between countries, with some of the most marked differences occurring between the USA and Europe. Regulation varies in a given country depending on the intended use of the products of the genetic engineering. For example, a crop not intended for food use is generally not reviewed by authorities responsible for food safety. The European Union differentiates between approval for cultivation within the EU and approval for import and processing. While only a few GMOs have been approved for cultivation in the EU a number of GMOs have been approved for import and processing. The cultivation of GMOs has triggered a debate about coexistence of GM and non GM crops. Depending on the coexistence regulations incentives for cultivation of GM crops differ.
In 1988, after prompting from the
United States Congress
REFERENCES AND NOTES
* ^ Text of the CBD. CBD.int. Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
* ^ A B "Incorporating
* ^ Nicolia, Alessandro; Manzo, Alberto; Veronesi, Fabio; Rosellini, Daniele (2013). "An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research" (PDF). Critical Reviews in Biotechnology. 34: 1–12. PMID 24041244 . doi :10.3109/07388551.2013.823595 . We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety for the last 10 years that catches the scientific consensus matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide, and we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops.
The literature about Biodiversity and the GE food/feed consumption
has sometimes resulted in animated debate regarding the suitability of
the experimental designs, the choice of the statistical methods or the
public accessibility of data. Such debate, even if positive and part
of the natural process of review by the scientific community, has
frequently been distorted by the media and often used politically and
inappropriately in anti-GE crops campaigns. * ^ "State of Food and
* ^ But see also:
Domingo, José L.; Bordonaba, Jordi Giné (2011). "A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants" (PDF). Environment International. 37: 734–742. PMID 21296423 . doi :10.1016/j.envint.2011.01.003 . In spite of this, the number of studies specifically focused on safety assessment of GM plants is still limited. However, it is important to remark that for the first time, a certain equilibrium in the number of research groups suggesting, on the basis of their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns, was observed. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that most of the studies demonstrating that GM foods are as nutritional and safe as those obtained by conventional breeding, have been performed by biotechnology companies or associates, which are also responsible of commercializing these GM plants. Anyhow, this represents a notable advance in comparison with the lack of studies published in recent years in scientific journals by those companies.
Krimsky, Sheldon (2015). "An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment" (PDF). Science, Technology, & Human Values. 40: 1–32. doi :10.1177/0162243915598381 . I began this article with the testimonials from respected scientists that there is literally no scientific controversy over the health effects of GMOs. My investigation into the scientific literature tells another story.
Panchin, Alexander Y.; Tuzhikov, Alexander I. (January 14, 2016). "Published GMO studies find no evidence of harm when corrected for multiple comparisons". Critical Reviews in Biotechnology: 1–5. ISSN 0738-8551 . PMID 26767435 . doi :10.3109/07388551.2015.1130684 . Here, we show that a number of articles some of which have strongly and negatively influenced the public opinion on GM crops and even provoked political actions, such as GMO embargo, share common flaws in the statistical evaluation of the data. Having accounted for these flaws, we conclude that the data presented in these articles does not provide any substantial evidence of GMO harm.
The presented articles suggesting possible harm of GMOs received high public attention. However, despite their claims, they actually weaken the evidence for the harm and lack of substantial equivalency of studied GMOs. We emphasize that with over 1783 published articles on GMOs over the last 10 years it is expected that some of them should have reported undesired differences between GMOs and conventional crops even if no such differences exist in reality.
Yang, Y.T.; Chen, B. (2016). "Governing GMOs in the USA: science, law
and public health". Journal of the
Overall, a broad scientific consensus holds that currently marketed GM food poses no greater risk than conventional food... Major national and international science and medical associations have stated that no adverse human health effects related to GMO food have been reported or substantiated in peer-reviewed literature to date.
Despite various concerns, today, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Health Organization, and many independent international science organizations agree that GMOs are just as safe as other foods. Compared with conventional breeding techniques, genetic engineering is far more precise and, in most cases, less likely to create an unexpected outcome. * ^ "Statement by the AAAS Board of Directors On Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods" (PDF). American Association for the Advancement of Science. October 20, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2016. The EU, for example, has invested more than €300 million in research on the biosafety of GMOs. Its recent report states: "The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies." The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.
Pinholster, Ginger (October 25, 2012). "AAAS Board of Directors: Legally Mandating GM Food Labels Could "Mislead and Falsely Alarm Consumers"". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved February 8, 2016. * ^ "A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001–2010)" (PDF). Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food. European Commission, European Union. 2010. ISBN 978-92-79-16344-9 . doi :10.2777/97784 . Retrieved February 8, 2016.
* ^ "AMA Report on Genetically Modified Crops and Foods (online
summary)". American Medical Association. January 2001. Retrieved March
19, 2016. A report issued by the scientific council of the American
Medical Association (AMA) says that no long-term health effects have
been detected from the use of transgenic crops and genetically
modified foods, and that these foods are substantially equivalent to
their conventional counterparts. (from online summary prepared by
ISAAA )" "Crops and foods produced using recombinant
"REPORT 2 OF THE COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND PUBLIC HEALTH (A-12):
Labeling of Bioengineered Foods" (PDF). American Medical Association.
2012. Archived from the original on September 7, 2012. Retrieved March
19, 2016. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20
years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health
have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed
literature. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link ) * ^
"Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: United States. Public
and Scholarly Opinion". Library of Congress. June 9, 2015. Retrieved
February 8, 2016. Several scientific organizations in the US have
issued studies or statements regarding the safety of GMOs indicating
that there is no evidence that GMOs present unique safety risks
compared to conventionally bred products. These include the National
Research Council, the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, and the American Medical Association. Groups in the US
opposed to GMOs include some environmental organizations, organic
farming organizations, and consumer organizations. A substantial
number of legal academics have criticized the US's approach to
* ^ "Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects". The
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
* ^ "Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods". World Health Organization. Retrieved February 8, 2016. Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.
GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved. Continuous application of safety assessments based on the Codex Alimentarius principles and, where appropriate, adequate post market monitoring, should form the basis for ensuring the safety of GM foods. * ^ Haslberger, Alexander G. (2003). "Codex guidelines for GM foods include the analysis of unintended effects". Nature Biotechnology. 21: 739–741. PMID 12833088 . doi :10.1038/nbt0703-739 . These principles dictate a case-by-case premarket assessment that includes an evaluation of both direct and unintended effects.
* ^ Some medical organizations, including the British Medical Association , advocate further caution based upon the precautionary principle :
"Genetically modified foods and health: a second interim statement" (PDF). British Medical Association. March 2004. Retrieved March 21, 2016. In our view, the potential for GM foods to cause harmful health effects is very small and many of the concerns expressed apply with equal vigour to conventionally derived foods. However, safety concerns cannot, as yet, be dismissed completely on the basis of information currently available.
When seeking to optimise the balance between benefits and risks, it is prudent to err on the side of caution and, above all, learn from accumulating knowledge and experience. Any new technology such as genetic modification must be examined for possible benefits and risks to human health and the environment. As with all novel foods, safety assessments in relation to GM foods must be made on a case-by-case basis.
Members of the GM jury project were briefed on various aspects of genetic modification by a diverse group of acknowledged experts in the relevant subjects. The GM jury reached the conclusion that the sale of GM foods currently available should be halted and the moratorium on commercial growth of GM crops should be continued. These conclusions were based on the precautionary principle and lack of evidence of any benefit. The Jury expressed concern over the impact of GM crops on farming, the environment, food safety and other potential health effects.
The Royal Society review (2002) concluded that the risks to human
health associated with the use of specific viral
* Friedman, Yali (2008). Building Biotechnology: Starting, Managing,
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