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Around 3000 BC, some clever (and brave) Egyptians fermented foods such as cheese and sour milk (yogurt) when they realized it was safer to eat and resisted spoilage better than their raw counterparts.1 They probably didn’t realize it, but they were using basic biotechnology practices. Using bacteria to digest lactose and yeast to ferment sugars to make wine, cheese, and bread are some of the earliest applications of biotechnology. We still use those early applications today, but modern biotechnology is mostly associated with molecular biology, cloning, and genetic engineering.
So, forget about the wheel; it’s the culinary innovations of wine, cheese, and bread that are the crowning jewels of humankind’s achievements! Yea, we stand firmly behind that assessment.
Your biotechnology lesson plans help students see how key concepts from biology, chemistry, and physics apply to modern applications within the biological sciences.
What is biotechnology?
Generally, biotechnology uses technology to use, modify, or upgrade the part or whole of the biological system to benefit industries and human life. There are many examples of how researchers use biotechnology, including in the study of DNA to identify the causes of genetic disorders and methods to cure them. 4 We wouldn’t have crucial vaccines and antibiotics without medical biotechnology.
Some specialized definitions of biotechnology include:
- An industrial process that uses scientific research on DNA for practical benefits (recombinant DNA technology)3
- The integrated use of biochemistry, microbiology, and engineering sciences to achieve the technological (industrial) application of the capabilities of microorganisms, cultured tissue cells. (European Federation of Biotechnology)2
- The controlled use of biological agents, such as microorganisms or cellular components (US National Science Foundation)2
The field uses a range of STEM subjects, including biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. The applications for biotechnology range from agriculture to industry, medicine, nutrition, environmental conservation, and cell biology.
Your lessons may inspire some students to add one of these in-demand biotech jobs to their career list:
- Med., Clinical Lab Technologists and Technicians
- Medical Scientists
- Biomedical Engineers
- Biological Technicians
- Biochemists and Biophysicists
- Chemical Technicians
- Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
- Genetic Counselors
Download McGraw Hill's AccessScience article on biotechnology above to share with your students; it has comprehensive facts to support or expand your lesson plans. The free download also includes assessment questions and answers you can use to test student understanding. It’s a valuable resource covering an exciting topic.
Download McGraw Hill's AccessScience Teacher Answer key for this article here.
References: 1. https://faculty.weber.edu/coberg/class/3853/3853%20HistoryofFood.htm 2. Essay on Biotechnology: Definition, Advancement, and .... https://www.biologydiscussion.com/essay/biotechnology-essay/essay-on-biotechnology-definition-advancement-and-application/17605%20 3. Cliffnotes.com Microbiology: Recombinant DNA and Biotechnology 4. Biotechnology - Types And Applications Of Biotechnology. https://byjus.com/biology/what-is-biotechnology/
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