What Is Biotech? Biotech Definition and Types of Biotech.

Biotech Definition

Biotechnology, or biotech, is technology that uses living organisms and biological systems to create products and services, typically with healthcare and industrial applications.

What Is Biotech?
Biotech vs. Biopharma
Types Of Biotech
What Is Biotech?
BioTech Pillar Page 1
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Biotechnology, or biotech, is the intersection of biological, engineering and computer sciences, which uses living organisms (or parts of them) and biological systems to create products and services with a wide range of applications. Biotech examples span a wide range of industries and use-cases, utilizing various techniques to accomplish goals ranging from creating medication to brewing beer.

Biotech companies focus on many areas, including pharmaceutical research, food production, fuel production, chemical manufacturing, breeding for biodiversity and the production of hazardous materials and weapons. Accordingly, biotech companies and scientists follow strict protocols regarding testing and analysis, ensuring that products will be used in ethical ways and seek to improve upon the lives and conditions of consumers and the environments they inhabit.

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History of Biotech

In one sense, biotech is nothing new. For thousands of years, humans have been manipulating organisms to create new products — think bread, wine and cheese — and breeding crops and livestock to get the best yields. Although biotech began as a way to improve food processes, when people hear the term biotech these days, they often think of some innovative breakthrough like genome editing or meat products grown in a lab.

Modern biotechnology as we know it began at the end of the 19th century with developments like Louis Pasteur’s discovery of the organisms involved in fermentation, which led to pasteurization, and Joseph Lister’s antisepsis system in surgery. The early 20th century saw the major microbial discovery of penicillin from Alexander Flemming. 

By the 1950s, the structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick. This led to a greater understanding of both the human body and other organisms. Cancer and Hepatitis B were some of the first diseases to see treatment from drugs made using biotech in the 1980s. 


Current Developments in Biotech

Biotech has changed a lot since the first loaf of bread was baked. It now spans many industries, from food to healthcare to transportation, as modern biotech develops drugs, food products, biofuel and more. 

Some of the most popular use cases for biotech are the research and development of vaccines. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, biotech was used to alter nucleosides, also known as the building blocks of mRNA, to create a safe environment for mRNA in COVID-19  vaccines

The food industry is one of the biggest sectors to use biotech to its advantage. The growing interest in alternative meat products, food that’s easy to grow at home and even lab grown meat has proven that biotech’s influence on what we eat is here to stay. Food products like cultured meat use biotech by isolating animal cells to grow tissues while alternative meat products may use gene-edited crops like soybeans. 

Biotech is also being used to combat climate change. The development of environmentally friendly fuels, or biofuels, allows the transportation industry to rely less and less on non-renewable fuel sources that contribute to carbon emissions. Biofuels are typically derived from agriculture and harvesting, woodlands, and residue streams and use vegetable oils, re-used wax or creature fats to create the fuel. Bioethanol fuels are made by fermenting sugar and starch crops like corn. 

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Biotech vs. Biopharma

What’s the Difference Between Pharma, Biotech and Biopharma?

It can be easy to mix up the pharmaceutical, biotech and biopharma industries, but they do have clear differences. 

Biotechnology uses living organisms and molecular biology to create products for a variety of industries, including medicine. The pharmaceutical industry also produces medicine, but these medicines use a chemical base. Biopharma refers to companies that combine the use of chemicals and organic matter in their research and development process. These companies produce a variety of products including medication, vaccines and more. 

The Difference Between Biotech and Biopharma

Simply put, biotech is any product created with biology or living organisms, while biopharma describes products created with both chemical and biological processes.

Red Biotechnology, also known as medical biotechnology, refers to the research and development of medicinal and veterinarian products using biotechnology. Medical biotech is linked to the biopharma industry. In fact, biopharma can be looked at as the results of Red Biotechnology development put into action. 

Biotech relies on consistent research and development practices in order to achieve results. While much of the research biotechnologists undergo results in little actionable data or end up negating positive initial investigations altogether, biopharma begins at the moment biotech research results in a breakthrough. Biopharmacists and biopharma companies then examine these breakthroughs to determine the necessary steps towards creating viable medicines and medicinal products, including finding target markets and creating plans for the commercialization and marketing of the product.

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Types Of Biotech

Types of Biotechnology

Biotech solves challenges throughout many industries, from medicine to food and fuel production. To define the needs, capabilities, and ethics involved in each application, biotech companies can be broken down into various categories based on the solutions they seek to create.

Types Of Biotech

  • Medical Biotechnology
  • Food Product Biotechnology
  • Industrial Biotechnology
  • Agricultural Biotechnology
  • Marine Biotechnology
  • Environmental Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology Weapons

Red Biotechnology: Medical Biotech

Red biotech involves all practices related to the research and creation of medicinal and veterinary products, including vaccines, antibiotics and molecular diagnosis techniques. Genetic engineering techniques are also utilized to research disease causes and develop potential cures through manipulation techniques.

Yellow Biotechnology: Food Biotech

All biotech companies and products related to the production of food fall into the Yellow Biotechnology categorization. One of the most popular examples of Yellow Biotech is the process of fermentation, in which bacteria or other microorganisms break down substances and transform their chemical makeup.

White Biotechnology: Industrial Biotech

White biotech refers to biotech practices utilized in industrial manufacturing, focused on redesigning chemical makeups to reduce multiple issues that have been present since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. White Biotechnology aims to reduce the consumption of resources and products during manufacturing by enabling more energy efficient processes, reducing pollution to offset the growing climate crisis.

Green Biotechnology: Gene Modification Biotech

Focused entirely on transgenics, or genetic modification, Green Biotechnology focuses entirely on creating new plant varieties for specific uses, such as the production of biopesticides and biofertilizers. Biotechnologists in this category splice single or multiple genes into an organism to solve for specific deficiencies within a plant. Genes can either come from the same species or others, resulting in healthier ecosystems and more resources available for harvesting. 

Grey Biotechnology: Environmental Biotech

While Green Biotechnology focuses on the introduction of genes into specific plants for a multitude of uses, Grey Biotechnology is the practice of introducing modified or unmodified plants and microorganisms into specific environments to remove carbons, metals and other pollutants or contaminants while enhancing overall biodiversity. Green and Grey biodiversity used in tandem can lead to profound changes in ecosystems on the verge of collapse.

Blue Biotechnology: Marine Biotech

Blue Biotechnology refers to the manipulation of marine-based resources to create products that benefit various industries. Due to the prevalence of water, Blue Biotechnology presents the greatest range of biodiversity, and accordingly, the highest overall potential for future biotech developments across industries. From alternative energy to vitamin production, Blue Biotechnology has led to enormous breakthroughs in quality of life. The introduction of transgenic fish, plants and microorganisms into marine environments can lead to less pollution, a higher abundance of resources and a better understanding of many unexplored regions of the world.

Other Types of Biotech

While not directly involved in the creation of biotech products, these categorizations exist to represent concerns surrounding biotech implementation.

Gold Biotechnology: Computing for Biotech

Gold biotech refers to the use of data, analytics and computing models to predict and enable biotech production.

Violet Biotechnology: Biotech Ethics

The handling of compliance, legality and ethical biotech concerns fall into the category of Violet Biotechnology.

Dark Biotechnology: Biotech Weapons

In contrast to the ethical standards of biotechnology, Dark Biotechnology refers to the creation of weapons and warfare products that intend to do harm and are produced through chemical manipulation or other biotech methods.

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