chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms, their components, secretions, or metabolites for the development of useful products. Through biotechnology, complex cellular chemistry can be technically enhanced and then employed to provide new products and processes. The focus of biotechnology is generally on the cell, existing in culture as genetically altered prokaryotic (bacteria) or eukaryotic cells (mammalian and insect cells). Historically, biotechnology has been concerned with the development of hybrid microorganisms used for making beer, wine, bread, cheese, and for developing hybrid crops and livestock. Modern techniques have led to the development of genetically altered cells that effectively produce either new products or large quantities of scarce products including antibiotics, antigens, enzymes, and other such biosubstances. Such techniques typically improve industrial processes where a biological catalyst replaces a chemical catalyst. Table 1.1, The Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Fermentation, and Enzyme Timeline, shows these developments over the years. It is expected that the biotechnology industry will grow significantly during the balance of this century. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment predicted that biotechnology-based processes will replace a large percentage of those utilized in standard product manufacture by the year 2025. Thus, biotechnology can strengthen and diversify the national economy by innovating existing biotech-based businesses and by providing the necessary technology to establish new industrial enterprises.