Giving an unequivocal definition of biotechnology is difficult because the field encompasses different scientific and production activities. In addition, biotechnology covers a wide range of concepts, technological and scientific.
However, the lack of a general definition has not slowed the progress of biotechnology development. Here are some definitions from the bibliography:
“Biotechnology is a set of powerful tools using living organisms (or a part of these organisms) to obtain or modify products, improve plant and animal species or develop microorganisms intended for specific uses”
“Biotechnology is the technique of manipulating living forms (organisms) aimed obtaining products useful to humanity “
“Biotechnology is the application of the principles of science and engineering to treatment materials via biological agents, in order to obtain products and services “Biotechnology is the integration of natural sciences and engineering in order to obtain the application of organisms and cells (or parts thereof) as well as molecular analogues in the production of goods and services “
“Biotechnology is the industrial use of living organisms or biological techniques developed by basic research. Biotechnology products include: antibiotics, insulin, interferon, recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibodies. Biotechnology techniques include: genetic engineering, cell cultures, tissue cultures, bioprocessing, protein engineering, biocatalysts, biosensors and bioengineering “
“Biotechnology is not just one technology, it brings together various techniques that have in common the manipulation of living cells and their molecules and the practical application of these processes to improve life ”
“In general terms, biotechnology is the use of biological processes aimed at obtaining useful products, which include modified organisms, substances and devices ”. “Biotechnology refers to biological processes producing substances beneficial to agriculture, industry, medicine and the environment. “
How can biotechnology be defined ?
According to the Technology Press Office of the Government Press Office American, there are two definitions of biotechnology. The first includes the old biotechnology and the new:
“Any technique using living organisms (or part of them) to create or develop microorganisms for specific uses”.
The second, more specific, applies to modern biotechnology:
“Biotechnology is the industry that uses recombinant DNA, cell fusion and new bioprocessing techniques.”
“Biotechnology is the application of science and engineering to the direct or indirect use of living organisms, parts of organisms or products of living organisms, under their natural or modified form “
This is how the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) describes the biotechnology:
“Application of science and technology to living organisms and their parts,
products and molecules, in order to modify the living materials or not which will be used for the production of knowledge, goods and services ”.
Other definitions go in this direction:
“Biotechnology is simply the use of microorganisms, as well as plant and animal cells, to produce materials, including food, drugs and chemicals useful to humanity.”
“Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or compounds derived from living organisms aimed at obtaining products useful to humans”.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) gives two definitions complementary to biotechnology “The use of biological processes or living organisms for the production of materials and services beneficial to humanity. Biotechnology involves the use of techniques that increase the economic value of plants and animals and develop microorganisms to act in the environment. “
“Biotechnology involves the manipulation, on a scientific basis, of living organisms, particularly at the genetic level, in order to produce new products such as hormones, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, etc. “.
Some biotechnologists define biotechnology as “a technology applying the
potential of living things and their possibility of selective and programmed modification to obtain of products, goods and services ”.
Therefore, biotechnology brings together the foundations from a large number of disciplines, from classical biology (taxonomy) to bioengineering or genetic engineering, microbiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, etc. For J. D. Bu’lock (1991), biotechnology “is the controlled and deliberate application of agents simple biological (living or dead cells, cellular components) in technical operations to manufacture products or obtain services. “
The meaning given to the term “biotechnology” is therefore sometimes too limited (genetic manipulation and molecular biology applied to obtaining useful goods and services). In the broad sense, biotechnology encompasses all the operations of applied biology, from agriculture to science culinary.
Biotechnology is not new, it was already present in primitive societies (making bread, cheese, wine, beer, etc.). We can also consider beekeeping and farming as ancestors of biotechnology.
However, in the United States, one of the countries most advanced in this field, the use of the term “biotechnology” today encompasses everything an industrial sector which creates, develops and markets a range of products resulting from genetic manipulation, molecular biology or the controlled and directed application of microorganisms or parts of microorganisms. If we look at a more industrial application, we can define the areas of biotechnology in relation to the products obtained.
- Production of microbial biomass for animal feed.
- Microbial production of chemicals such as citric acid, glutamic acid, amino acids, etc.
- Enzymatic production of special chemicals, for example certain optical isomers, etc.
- Microbial or enzymatic production of antibiotics and vitamins.
- Large-scale production of chemicals previously produced from petroleum, including ethanol, butanol, acetone, acetic acid, etc.
- Production, from animal or plant cells or genetically engineered microorganisms modified, antigens, antibodies, therapeutants and diagnostics previously made from higher organisms.
- Products for agriculture and livestock. This method, which involves improving the species of plants and animals via genetic engineering, is much faster and more efficient than those used until now (cuttings or selection and crossing of species).
- Products for the food industry, for example: enzymes, food additives and, above all, better knowledge of the fermentation processes used since always and possibility of better select microorganisms and even improve them genetically.
- Cleaner or less polluting technologies. Obtaining technology that does not include no environmental risks (or minimal risks) as a result of the application different areas of biotechnology can also be seen as the result of biotechnology and be applied to different industrial sectors