It is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or "any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use" Biotechnology can also be defined as "using organisms or their products for commercial purposes.". Contrary to its name, biotechnology is not a single technology. Rather it is a group of technologies that share two (common) characteristics -- working with living cells and their molecules and having a wide range of practice uses that can improve our lives. For thousands of years, humankind has used biotechnology in agriculture, food production and medicine. The term itself is largely believed to have been coined in 1919 by Hungarian engineer Karl Ereky. In the late 20th and early 21st century.
Difference between biotechnology and genetic engineering:
People have been using biotechnology for millennia. This technology is based on the use of microorganisms, which e.g. ferment the sugar in barley to alcohol during beer production. Other examples of everyday products that undergo biotechnological processing are cheese, yogurt, vinegar, wine, yeast, and sourdough. Without knowledge of the exact backgrounds, our ancestors used these methods to discover and improve a range of applications that made their life easier. Genetic engineering is a modern subspecialty of biotechnology. It is concerned with the targeted modification of the genetic material of bacteria or plants, for example to stimulate them to biosynthesize desired products. Today genetic engineering is primarily used in the field of medicine, but is also applied in industry and agriculture.
The basis for genetic engineering :
A fundamental prerequisite for targeted gene modification is that the cells of organisms, such as animals and plants, are more similar to each other than the actual organisms themselves appear to be. The cell is the smallest unit of life in a biological organism. There are various types of cells with different tasks. Despite many differences in function and structure, all cells are built according to the same basic pattern. The main constituents of cells are proteins, lipids (fats) and carbohydrates (sugars). A cell’s genetic information is stored in chromosomes in the cells interior. Chromosomes comprise proteins and a chemical substance called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA is composed of many combinations of the four basic building blocks adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T); the four letters that go to make up the genetic alphabet. Certain segments of the DNA contain the “building instructions”, called genes, which describe specific functions of the organism. With a few exceptions the chemical structure of the genetic material is identical in all cells and organisms. The same alphabet and the same language, as it were, are used throughout. Biotechnology is only possible because the genetic code is nearly universal. For example, the genetic information containing, for example, the building instructions for a plant protein can be integrated into a bacterium. The bacterium is then able to produce that protein.