What is biotechnology?

The word biotechnology is a cross between the Greek words 'bios' (everything to do with life) and 'technikos' (involving human knowledge and skills). The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development defines biotechnology as "the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents". More simply, it is using living organisms to make useful products - since 8000 B.C.

Production may be carried out by using intact organisms, such as yeasts and bacteria, by using natural substances (e.g. enzymes) from organisms, or by modifying plant genomes. Biotechnology makes use of biological systems and processes to manufacture useful products and provide services.

Read more about: Healthcare or red biotech | Industrial or white biotech | Agricultural or green biotech