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What is biotechnology used for?

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Biotechnology is a branch of science that seeks to improve human life by utilizing and improving upon biological processes and interactions to create new technology and products. Biotechnology has been used by humans for thousands of years in a variety of ways.

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Some of the earliest human uses of biotechnology were the domestication of animals and cultivation of crops for consumption. Other early uses of biotechnology were in specialized breeding programs of food staples by farmers that resulted in crops with high yields that could sustain the larger populations necessary for human society to thrive after the Neolithic Revolution. Biotechnology relating to food and drink also includes leavening yeast for bread and fermentation practices for beer and wine.

In 1928, Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered the mold culture that would eventually became the basis for the antibiotic penicillin. This organism's contribution to human health through its application in the treatment of infections is an example of biotechnology in action. Penicillin and its subsequent drug classes have been in use since 1940.

Modern biotechnology seeks to affect various aspects of human life by creating new types of fuel, improving agricultural practices, and fighting infectious disease. As a result, biotechnology is closely related to the fields of biomedical engineering and bioengineering.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is traditional biotechnology?

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    Traditional biotechnology is the use of natural organisms by humans to create or modify foods or other useful products. Examples of traditional biotechnology include using yeasts for fermentation and practicing selective seed collection to create hardier crops.

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  • Q:

    What are some interesting biotechnology topics?

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    One biotechnology topic is the genetic modification of crops. There are also a variety of biotech companies that are coming out with treatments for patients dealing with major illnesses such as breast cancer. There are even attempts to develop new drugs to save the lives of pets.

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  • Q:

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology?

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    The advantages of biotechnology include curing infectious diseases, creating more efficient fuels and increasing farming yields to feed more people. Disadvantages of biotechnology include antibiotic resistant bacteria, new allergic reactions and higher prices for farmers.

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  • Q:

    What are some of the potential benefits and potential risks of biotechnology?

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    The benefits of using biotechnology to genetically modify organisms include increased yield at reduced cost, lower prices, increased land use, reduced use of pesticides, and increased profits for companies that develop the plants. The objections to this technology include a fear of playing God, fears about whether genetically modified crops are sustainable and worries about the distribution of benefits and burdens.

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