Following are a few definitions given by other organizations :Biotechnology is the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents to provide goods and service. [The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 1981].
If we trace out the origin of biotechnology, it is as old as human civilization. Aryans started preparing curd and alcohol before 2,500 B.C. They used to offer spiritual soma to Gods. Who can forget the story of butter-stealing (makhan chori) by Lord Krishna during Mahabharat period? Since then, the progress made in this direction was very slow until the realization of their significance, and the commercialization of products.
Although involvement of yeasts in alcohol production was known since the time of Louis Pasteur, yet detailed studies were made during 1900s. In 1920, for the first time, the Leeds City Council, U.K. established the Institute of Biotechnology. In the late 1960s, OECD was set up to promote policies for sound economic growth of the member countries. In 1978, European Federation of Biotechnology was established. Until 1970s, the efforts made by microbiologists, molecular biologists, geneticists, biochemists, medical scientists, biochemical engineers, agriculture scientists, virologists, etc. led to reach their respective disciplines to the zenith.
|Human insulin||Eli Lily, Novo Nordisk, Hoechst|
|Growth factors||Eli Lily, Novo Nordisk, Genetech, Pharmacia|
|Blood factors||Amgen, J & J, Sankyo, Chugai, Sandoz, Immunex|
|Interferon||Roche, Wellcome, Daiichi, Sumitomo|
|Monoclonal antibodies||J & J, Cytogen|
|Vaccines||Smithkline, Merk, Shionogi|
It is, therefore, interesting that the scientists are engaged in doing the most challenging task of mass production of growth hormones, insulin, vaccines, immunogenic proteins and polypeptides, gene therapy, biofertilizers, biopesticides, producing disease and stress-resistant plants, biomass, enzymes, antibiotics, acids, fuels, etc. Many biochemical companies such as National Pituitary Agency (U.S.A.), E. Lilly (U.S.A.), Kabi Vitram A B (Sweden), Genetech Co. (U.S.A.), Biogen (Switzerland), etc. are producing/trying to produce some of the above products by using genetic engineering techniques. Many Nobel Laureates including Dr. Har Govind Khorana, are associated with these companies.
Many international agencies are making effort to solve the national and international problems via collaborative works. Various programmes including molecular and environmental engineering have been taken up by the European Communities with frame work of their collaborative activities. For training purposes, under several biotechnological programmes, centers have been established, for example, the International Center for Cooperative Research and Training in Microbial Engineering (Japan) and Institute of Biotechnological Studies (U.K.).
Many countries have developed collaborative networks on several aspects such as "Regional Microbiology Network for South-East Asia" (supported by Japan and UNESCO). "Microbiological Resource Centers" (MICRCENS) [supported by UNESCO]; United Nations Environmental Programmes (UNEP), International Cell Research Organization (ICRO). These two organizations have participations of groups in many countries.
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