What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology is used to produce foods such as bread, yogurt, soy sauce, cheeses, beer and wine, usually by fermentation. Many fruits and vegetables that we know today were produced by crossing two different species; for example, a nectarine is a cross between a plum and a peach.
Biotechnology is also being used to improve traditional foods called functional foods. Examples include golden rice with vitamin A, soybean oils with less saturated fats and more omega 3, plants with more active vitamin E, potatoes with higher protein content, antioxidants in berries, peanuts without the allergenic protein, naturally decaffeinated coffee and edible vaccines.
Many medicines are produced using biotechnology techniques such as Insulin, Codeine, and cancer therapy drugs.
Biotechnology is important for the environment including advances such as crops resistant to insects and pests allowing for less use of pesticides, using bacteria to clean up oil spills and other contaminants, making ethanol from corn (allowing less use of fossil fuels), as well as producing biodegradable plastics in bacteria.
Biotechnology techniques are used to produce gene therapies and to improve upon techniques of forensics.