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Biotechnology is the use of living things to make useful products to benefit mankind and the environment. It is a technique that uses living organisms, or substances from these organisms, to make or modify a product, to improve plants or animals, or to develop micro-organisms.
Biotechnology has been around for centuries in baking bread, brewing beer and wine, making cheese, compost and selective breading. Modern biotechnology was the result of the discovery of the structure of DNA, also called the building blocks of life. All living things share this DNA structure which is the genetic recipe that makes us who we are. Biotechnology involves the transfer of a gene from one organism to another. Genes are small pieces of DNA that carry the code for particular characteristics or functions of an organism.
Before modern biotechnology, gene transfer was only possible through selective breeding (which has been done for over 500 years) of organisms, with some exceptions. Modern biotechnology makes it possible to transfer specific genes from one species to another. In a sense biotechnology just makes the process of selective breeding more accurate and effective. Biotechnology also plays an important part in our everyday lives for example: in human and animal medicines, vaccines and hormones, food processing, environmental conservation, and industrial products these all provide numerous benefits to mankind and the environment
Biotechnology is used in various different sectors such as the medical, pharmaceutical, industrial, environmental and agricultural sector. Agricultural biotechnology crops are also called genetically modified (GM) crops or transgenic crops, and have increased crop yields while allowing a reduction of environmental impacts from agriculture.