Zaitlin, Milton Biotechnology Program, Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Agricultural science (plant and animal)
- Plant science
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Generally, any technique that is used to make or modify the products of living organisms in order to improve plants or animals or to develop useful microorganisms. According to the general definition, biotechnology has actually been practiced for centuries, as exemplified by the use of yeast and bacteria in the production of various foods, including wine, bread, and cheese. However, in modern terms, biotechnology has come to mean the use of cell and tissue culture, cell fusion, molecular biology, and, in particular, recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology (Fig. 1) to generate unique organisms with new traits or organisms that have the potential to produce specific products. The advances and products in the biotechnology arena have been developing at a rapid pace. Still, the manipulation of biological processes for commercial exploitation and benefit has led to controversy. Some examples of products in a number of important disciplines are described below. See also: Bioethics; Cell (biology); Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); Molecular biology; Recombination (genetics)
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