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Biotechnology: Know Everything About It

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What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is the stream of study that integrates biology and technology to develop products and systems that can improve our lives and benefit the health of our planet as a whole. The most significant contribution of biotechnology is the production of therapeutic proteins and other drugs through genetic engineering. 

Biotechnology research focuses on discovering the root molecular causes of diseases and intervening precisely at that level to find out the remedies. Modern biotechnology has generated solutions through products and technologies to combat rare diseases, address environmental concerns, develop cleaner energy, and have a safer, cleaner, and more efficient industrial manufacturing process.

The basics of biotechnology refer to the application of technology to use living systems and organisms in developing new solutions for human needs. This process uses different techniques that have created a breakthrough in genetic studies and research. 

The study of biotechnology involves analysis of the design and functions of living organisms and provides scientists with the tools and techniques to implement in various commercial, industrial, and healthcare applications for human benefits.

Principles of Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a field involving applied biology and natural sciences. It uses the concepts of genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and other life sciences to develop products or processes that improve the conditions of the living world. Biotechnology principles deal with two main aspects of living systems as explained below.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is one of the core principles of biotechnology and deals with the DNA of an organism and alters it to create new gene structures and characteristics in living organisms. The underlying principle in this process is to alter the characteristics of an existing organism by modifying the genetic structure which involves recombinant DNA technology. It also applies genetic manipulation technologies such as gene edits, RNA interference, and genome editing. 

This technology involves techniques of modifying DNA sequences with precision and inserting a gene from one species into another. It helps to generate immunity to certain diseases or environmental conditions. 

Genetic engineering has led to significant advances in the understanding of gene functions and treatments for critical diseases. The study and implementation of genetic engineering have improved the quality or quantity of products, improve human health, created disease-resistant plants, etc. 

Bioprocess Engineering

Bioprocess engineering is an integral principle of biotechnology that deals with the process of designing and managing biological systems. The processes typically include the production, control, and optimization of products and processes through the application of bio-sciences. It involves a fundamental understanding and application of basic physical science concepts such as thermodynamics or chemical kinetics for modeling biochemical reactions. 

Bioprocess Engineering is also responsible for process control, monitoring systems, and quality assurance by integrating biochemical and mechanical design to optimize production. The Bioprocess Engineering principles also include cellular replication or protein expression to achieve desired product qualities.  

Origin of Modern Biotechnology 

Modern biotechnology refers to newer applications in the field of biotechnology involving genetic engineering and cell fusion. It is a common question: when did modern biotechnology begin

Modern biotechnology is said to begin with the invention of genetic engineering. It is believed that modern biotechnology started in 1973 when scientists first genetically engineered Escherichia coli bacteria with a new gene structure that made them resistant to an antibiotic. 

The scientists introduced a process of using proteins called restriction enzymes to produce cuts in the DNA chain and insert foreign DNA. The bacteria would then start using the new genetic information and act in the desired way.

Concept of Biotechnology

The term Biotechnology was first introduced in 1919 by Karloly Ereky which indicates the process of making products from raw materials with the aid of living organisms. Biotechnology is the use of biology to develop new products, methods, and organisms which can be used systematically to improve human health and society. 

The concept of biotechnology started long ago with the domestication of plants, and animals and the discovery of fermentation. The field has shown significant development over the last century evolving various methods to manipulate the genetic configuration of living organisms. 

The modern concept of biotechnology draws inputs from various disciplines of science and technology such as chemistry, macular biology, genetics, etc.  Modern biotechnology begins with the study of genes in plants and animals that determine the characteristics of the organism. Scientists have developed techniques to modify genes to strengthen the characteristics of an organism or create an entirely new one. These modified organisms can be beneficial to humans by producing high-yield crops or increasing resistance to diseases and extreme climatic conditions. 

Types of Biotechnology

There are two main types of Biotechnology-

1. Medical Biotechnology

Medical Biotechnology uses living cells and cell materials to develop efficient ways of maintaining human health. It broadly focuses on finding a cure, prevention, and causes of diseases. It involves the use of these tools for understanding human cell biology, pathogens, and human response to pathogens. It also involves a DNA study to know more about genetic diseases and how to cure them. Medical biotechnology also studies the genetic make-up of cells and alters them with tools to develop beneficial products for mankind. Example- Insulin. Vaccines and antibiotics which are in use today are all made by using biotechnology.


  1. Vaccines- Vaccines are weakened or mortal strains of pathogens introduced in the bloodstream so that the body feels attacked and fights the attenuated strains of the pathogen. Our body takes note of the chemical structure of the pathogen and keeps a memory locked in the cells within the body. On infection with the actual disease, the memory cells direct the body about how to fight the pathogen. Thus, vaccines are made using the tools of biotechnology.

  2. Antibiotics - Antibiotics are biotechnologically developed anti-microbial substances that combat bacterial infections in the body. Antibiotics not just kill the bacteria, but prevent its spread and reproduction inside the body. Thus, drugs that kill the germs in our body which cause diseases are antibiotics.    

  3. Hormones- There are various medical applications of synthetic hormones. Mostly they are used in birth control methods or for treating some symptomatic diseases. In some individuals’ hormonal organs don’t work efficiently to produce the necessary amount of hormone in the body. To meet these needs synthetic hormones are taken externally. Example- Synthetic thyroid hormone tablets.

2. Agricultural Biotechnology

This field makes the use of tools of biotechnology to develop genetically modified plants with two motives. One is to increase the yield and the second is to add an additional feature to the plant for profitable purposes. Genetic crosses can be invented by studying the genes of certain species of plants and thus, they can be altered to withstand weather or other physical conditions. Which the plant otherwise cannot withstand due to the presence of certain genes.


  1. Developing pest-resistant crops- Important crops are very susceptible to pest attack. Pests either decrease the yield of crops or destroy the crops completely. Biotechnological techniques are used to develop pest-resistant crops. Crops can also be saved from the pests by using pesticides, but they are harmful to human health. Therefore, a genetic alteration within the plants is neither harmful for humans nor malicious to plants and saves them from the pests. Bt. cotton, Bt. Brinjal are all successful examples of such crops.

  2. Even in animal husbandry, gene modulation and manipulation are used to obtain offspring with desirable traits.

Applications of Biotechnology

The different applications of biotechnology includes the following:

Nutrient Enhancement

Nutrient content can be increased in crops by biotechnology applications. Golden rice is prepared by the infusion of beta-carotene into the rice.

Sustainable Agriculture

Biotechnology helps in the production of weather-resistant crops that can handle cold, drought, salinity, etc. in regions with extreme climatic conditions. 

Industrial Biotechnology

Biotechnology can be used in the production of industrial products for commercial use.


Biotechnology has wide applications in the field of pharmaceuticals to find out remedial solutions to less curable deceases.  


Biotechnology is the field that utilizes living organisms to make technological advances in various fields for the sustainable development of mankind. Biotechnology is best known for its role in medicine and pharmaceuticals, but it is also applied in other areas such as food production, environment protection, and industrial manufacturing. Modern biotechnology continues to make significant contributions to improve human health and quality of life, providing products and therapies to combat diseases, enhance crop productivity, and produce biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1. What are the benefits of Biotechnology?

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FAQs on Biotechnology: Know Everything About It

1. What are the benefits of Biotechnology?

Ans. Following are the benefits of Biotechnology-

  • With pest resistance crops, we can have fewer pesticides laden food.

  • Genetically engineered crops can withstand even the harsh climatic conditions.

  • Pharmaceuticals, synthetic insulin which is cheaper, is now available because of biotechnology.

  • With nutrient supplementation, nutrient-rich food can be given to masses in times of adversity.

  • Biotechnology offers medical advancement.

  • It helps preserve natural resources and provides economical and environmentally friendly alternatives.

2. What are the Industrial applications of Biotechnology?

Ans. Industrial applications include the fermentation process for the production of various food products like cheese, bread, alcohol, wine, beer. It is also used in the production of detergents, health care products, etc.

3. What is the most important implication of biotechnology?

Ans. The most important implication of biotechnology is in the area of health and medicine. Through genetic engineering, scientists have been able to create new medicines for critical diseases.

4.  What are the subfields of biotechnology?

Ans. The main subfields of biotechnology are medical, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology.

5.  What is recombinant DNA technology?

Ans: Recombinant DNA technology is a process in genetic engineering to create and modify gene structures to create new characteristics.

6.  Who introduced the term ‘Biotechnology’?

Ans: Karoly Ereky (1878-1952) was a Hungarian agricultural engineer who coined the term 'biotechnology' in 1919.  

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