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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
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.
Responsible biotechnology is not our enemy; hunger and starvation are. Without adequate food supplies at affordable prices, we cannot expect world health, prosperity, and peace.
~Nobel Laureates Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter (2008)
YouTube video: The famine fighter's last battle
OrB advisory board
We thank Megan Conca for her substantial effort in initial design and provision of content for this web.