“Biotechnology is an application of knowledge and techniques of biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, immunology, tissue and cell culture, molecular biology and chemical engineering to living systems or parts thereof for harvesting beneficial products and / or services for the mankind”. It is, in essence, an integrated approach of several disciplines together.
Genetic engineering is considered as the mainstay of. Biotechnology refers to the manipulation / engineering of genes (DNA) towards a desired end. Several synonyms such as gene cloning, molecular cloning, gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology may substitute for genetic engineering.
Although this branch of science seems to be relatively new, its application dates back to very early times. Sumerians and Babylonians knew to prepare beer.
Ancient people also knew cheese production and mushroom cultivation. All these processes involve biotechnological applications. Antony van Leeuwenhoek observed microorganisms with his microscope in the seventeenth century. Louis Pasteur (between 1857 and 1876) established the fermentation ability of microorganisms.
He is considered as the father of biotechnology. The term ‘biotechnology’ was coined by Karl Rekey (1917), a Hungarian engineer, to describe the large scale production of pigs by using sugar beets as the source of food. For around the next 45 years, the word biotechnology, as a scientific discipline, remained as an ambiguous connotation.
This ambiguity ended in 1967 when, a Swedish microbiologist, Carl Goren Haden suggested the changing of the title of a journal from the “Journal of Microbiological and Biochemical Engineering” to “Biotechnology and Bioengineering”. From this time on, biotechnology has, unequivocally, been associated with the study of “industrial production of goods and services by using biological organisms, systems and processes”.
It underwent a slow period of growth up to the third quarter of the last century. A biotechnological revolution started in 1970 after which, it has undergone a period of exponential growth refer to chapter- I for a brief historical review, which led to the establishment of Biotechnology as a frontier in science and technology.