Biotechnology used for Agriculture
Broadly speaking, biotechnology is any technique that uses living organisms or substances from these organisms to make or modify a product for a practical purpose (Box 2). Biotechnology can be applied to all classes of organism - from viruses and bacteria to plants and animals - and it is becoming a major feature of modern medicine, agriculture and industry. Modern agricultural biotechnology includes a range of tools that scientists employ to understand and manipulate the genetic make-up of organisms for use in the production or processing of agricultural products.
Some applications of biotechnology, such as fermentation and brewing, have been used for millennia. Other applications are newer but also well established. For example, micro-organisms have been used for decades as living factories for the production of life-saving antibiotics including penicillin, from the fungus Penicillium, and streptomycin from the bacterium Streptomyces. Modern detergents rely on enzymes produced via biotechnology, hard cheese production largely relies on rennet produced by biotech yeast and human insulin for diabetics is now produced using biotechnology.