Oregon State University

About OrB

What is biotechnology

Biotechnology is the fusion of biology and technology to support human nutrition, shelter, health and environment. Early biotechnologists genetically improved plants and animals during domestication and pre-scientific breeding. They also used yeast to make bread and wine, and bacteria and animal enzymes (rennet) to make cheese. Now molecularly bred and genetically engineered (GE) yeast and bacteria produce substances like insulin and antibiotics, GE plants reduce pesticide use and pest damage and are pharmed for medicines and industrial products like plastics, and GE organisms can be used to clean up the environment (bioremediation). Biotechnology underlies many diagnostic tests and medical therapies, and aids biofuel crop breeding and production. While scientists consider biotechnology as a broad array of technologies and do not equate it with GE per se, the public often views GE and biotechnology synonymously.

Who we are

We are academic scientists and invited scholars who seek to promote innovative and wise uses of biotechnology for economic, humanitarian, and environmental goals. 

What we do

Outreach in Biotechnology (OrB) connects you to accurate information about how biotech can be used in agriculture, forestry, and natural resource management to promote economic benefits, reduce environmental harms, and improve sustainability.  It seeks to provide holistic, usable information that gives insights into benefits, risks, and tradeoffs in a manner that is relevant and in context with the social and biological realities of farming and resource management systems.  We feature the thoughts and insights of leading scholars in our Food for Thought lecture series, and seek to make those insights widely available to teachers, scientists, and the general public.


Borlaug by AgriLifeResponsible biotechnology is not our enemy; hunger and starvation are. Without adequate food supplies at affordable prices, we cannot expect world health, prosperity, and peace.

Jimmy Carter by Bettmann/Corbis

~Nobel Laureates Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter (2008)


YouTube video: The famine fighter's last battle








Funding for the OrB program is provided by the College of Agricultural Sciences OSU.

Jimmy Carter by Bettmann/Corbis


We thank Megan McKenzie for her substantial effort in initial site design and content development.

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