|There are many ways to define biotechnology, depending on the kinds of answers that you're looking for. To us at The Children's Museum, biotechnology describes the process by which humans use living things as tools to meet their wants. Biotechnology is exciting! Using plants and foods, scientists apply special techniques to make our food better.
|In the News
Check out how Biotechnology affects your world! Learn about the new types of rice being grown, find out how science is saving the French Fry and learn about low-fat pigs.
They can make fruits bigger and protect plants from insects without using pesticides, so that nutritional value is added. Also, biotechnology has helped us to understand why there are so many different types of flowers. And, thanks to biotechnology, the number of different flowers continues to grow!
First of all - what does the word mean?
Bio - means "Life;"
Techno - means "tools;"
- ology means "the study of."
Biotechnology is also a growing field that includes several types of scientists, such as nutritionists, chemists, agronomists, geneticists and entomologists. They all work together to understand the complicated ideas associated with DNA.
Genetic engineering is a type of biotechnology - probably the one most talked about in the news. While genetic engineering requires special molecular tools to move genes from one location to the next, biotechnology just means that genes have to change location, usually with the help of a living organism such as a bacterium. The BLC will cover not just genetic engineering, but the advancement of biotechnology over the past 4,000 years.
Why is biotechnology so important?
How does it affect me?
These are questions that you're probably wondering about and this place can give you the answers!
Biotechnology has been around for a long time... more than four thousand years! Have you ever eaten a toasted cheese sandwich? The products in it, bread and cheese, have been created by biotechnology over thousands of years.
Earlier biotechnology was somewhat different, though. Ancient Egyptians selected their favorite type of wheat and crossbred those types to make the kind of bread they liked.
Over the years, other cultures have further changed bread to get the bread that you eat today. Therefore, the toasted cheese sandwich that we eat today is the result of years of taste-tests! To make bread, a living organism, yeast, is added to make the bread rise. The yeast eats the sugar in the bread material and breathes out carbon dioxide, a gas. The gas in the bread mixture causes bread to rise. The cheese on your sandwich is made by adding another living organism, lactic bacteria, to keep milk from spoiling.
From flowers to food, biotechnology has affected our world. Thousands of years ago, selecting the best plants and choosing to breed those varieties was as common a practice as it is today. That selection process is a type of biotechnology and has been instrumental in determining the genetic makeup of our modern plants. In fact, Orville Redenbacher crossbred more than 30,000 varieties of corn to design his famous gourmet popcorn.
Have you ever cried when slicing an onion? Biotechnology has also alleviated this problem. Scientists have designed an onion - with all the nutrients and taste - that, when cut, doesn't cause people to shed tears! Scientists found that a single enzyme, called the lachrymatory-factor synthase, forms propanthial S-oxide, the onion's tear-inducing element. Since the enzyme does not seem to be influencing any taste factors of the vegetable, people could soon be tear-free while chopping onions.
Biotechnology is also important because it helps us feel better when we're sick. Medicine like penicillin, good for treating infections, is actually the product of a mold that grows on citrus fruits, like oranges. Thanks to biotechnology, the medicine was turned into a form that most people can use today.