Term Paper: Biotechnology Applies Technology on the Industrial

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Biotechnology applies technology on the industrial or manufacturing aspects of the life sciences. It uses biological systems, living organisms or their derivatives in effecting processes for specific use. It is a high-tech industry, which requires high research and development and intensive investment on its star scientists to command vast markets through the acquisition of patents, worth hundreds to millions of dollars, for these scientists' discoveries, knowledge and skills. The industry is young but promises to feed the world's increasing population, clean up the environment and create products consumers want. Already, the biotech industry is growing, reaping huge profits and employing more and more people. But currently, American consumers do not have sufficient awareness of the nature and effects of biotech to decide whether to accept or reject it.

Introduction. - Technology is the application of a scientific method and scientific knowledge to industrial or commercial objectives (Hand 2002). Biotechnology is the application of technology, especially genetics, to industrial or manufacturing aspects of life sciences. Biotechnological applications include the production of drugs, synthetic hormones and bulk foodstuffs; the bio-conversion of organic waste; and the use of genetically altered bacteria. Because it possesses intensive investment in research and development, a crucial role for knowledge capital in creating value, and high growth opportunities, biotechnology is classified as high-technology (Hand). The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity defined biotechnology as any technological application, which uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives in order to make or modify products or processes for specific use (Wikipedia 2006). It may or may not use organisms to perform these tasks and provide useful products. The manufacture of organic products, such as beer and milk products; bioleaching in the mining industry; bioremediation; and biological warfare, are examples of biotechnological applications, which use living organisms. Examples, which do not use living organisms, include DNA micro-arrays, utilized in genetics and radioactive tracers, used in medicine (Wikipedia).

The sub-fields of biotechnology are red, blue, green and bioinformatics (Wikipedia 2006). Red biotechnology is used for medical processes, such as the design of organisms to produce antibiotics and the engineering of genetic cures through genomic manipulation. Blue technology is used in the marine and aquatic industries but is relatively rare. White or grey biotechnology is used in industrial processes, such as the production of chemicals. Green biotechnology is applied to agricultural processes, such as agricultural products. Green biotechnology promises solutions to environmental problems, like the production of plants, which will not need pesticides. An example is Bt corn. Green technology has incited much debate. Biotechnology is a relatively young industry in comparison with the traditional pharmaceutical industry. The older and traditional industry aims at treating the symptoms of a disease or illness directed at a single target. Biotechnology, on the other hand, deals with target in human beings, which are not accessible to traditional medicines. Modern biotechnology is credited with the use of genetically altered microorganisms to produce substances, like insulin and antibiotics; Chinese Hamster Ovarian and plant-made pharmaceuticals; medical therapies for diabetes, hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, cancers, arthritis, hemophilia, fractures, multiple sclerosis; and molecular diagnostic devices, such as Herceptin for breast cancers in women (Wikipedia).

History - Evidence exists that Mesopotamian people collected and used seeds for replanting and selective breeding practices to improve livestock as far back as 8000 BC (Wikipedia 2006). Beer was brewed, wine was fermented and bread was baked with yeast as early as 6000 BC; the Chinese used lactic-acid-producing bacteria in making yogurt and cheese in 4000 BC; plant collecting began in 1500 AD; the first microorganisms were discovered through the microscope, invented in 1590 by Zacharias Janssen; and Gregor Mendel discovered the laws of inheritance in 1856. The term "biotechnology" was used for the first time by Karl Ereky, a Hungarian agricultural engineer, in 1919. In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick first described the structure of DNA and Kohler and Milstein developed a method for producing monoclonal antibodies in 1875. The prokaryote model, E. coli, was first used to produce insulin and other medicine in human form in 1980. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first GM food from Calgene, "Flavr Savr" tomato in 1994. British scientists, led by Ian Wilmut, from the Roslin Institute reported on the first cloning of a sheep in 1997 by using DNA from two adult sheep cells. The Human Genome Project was completed in 2000 and, in 2002, researchers decoded the genome of rice, the main food source for two-thirds of the world's population (Wikipedia).

Pre-urban civilizations used natural processes to break down waste products into inert forms and understood that these waste products would eventually integrate into the soil (Wikipedia 2006). Modern microbiology and chemistry would eventually discover and unravel that bacteria are behind this process. Through early biotechnology, farmers selected the best-suited and highest-yielding crops to produce enough food for their growing population and this practice existed since the Neolithic period. As crops and field increased more and more in size, biotechnology developed to use specific organisms and organism by-products to fertilize, restore nitrogen and control pests. Ethanol fermentation was likewise among the first forms of biotechnology. It was used in the process of brewing malted grains and specific yeasts in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Iran. Fermentation was also used to produce leavened bread, but fermentation was fully understood only after Louis Pasteur's discovery in 1857. It was only then that biotechnology was used to convert one food source into another form. The combination of plants and other organisms in the medical field was also used as early as 200 BC when people used very small and disabled amounts of infectious agents in immunizing against infections. These and similar processed have been refined in recent times and have led to the production of antibiotics, vaccines and other methods of fighting disease. Still another and more recent field is genetic engineering, which has allowed the modification of plants, animals and even human beings on the molecular level. Recent statistics showed that there were 4,000 biotechnology firms around the world and almost 50% of them are in the European Union, 30% in the U.S. And the rest in Asia. As of 2005, the best-performing leaders were Hoffmann-La Roche, Genentech, Amgen, Johnson $ Johnson, Wyeth, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Serono, Biogen Idec, Chiron Corporation, Pfizer, Genzyme, MedImmune, Applied Biosystems and Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Wikipedia).

Market Structure, Income Statement and Economic Efforts - Global sales of biotechnology products have been exceeding $500 billion per year at a growth rate of 24% since the start of the century, with the highest growth level in Latin America. The fastest rates in biopharmaceuticals have been in the particular field of breast cancer treatment (Wikipedia 2006). As previously mentioned, biotechnology is categorized as high-technology for its specific characteristics of intensive investment in research and development or R & D, its crucial role for knowledge capital in creating value, and its high growth opportunities (Hand 2002). The largest and most important expenditures of a biotech firm are in R & D. And on the discoveries, knowledge and skill of its bio-scientists and bioengineers. Successful inputs can earn the company hundreds to millions of dollars of annual sales to accrue intellectual property and legal patents. These raise the company's equity market value. From its beginnings in the mid-1970s, the biotech industry has helped more than 250 million people throughout the world through the more than 117 biotechnology drug products and vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The Organization reported that there are now more than 350 biotech drug products and vaccines in clinical trials, which address more than 200 diseases. These diseases include various cancers, Alzheimers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and arthritis. Biotech conducts hundreds of medical diagnostic tests and procedures that keep the blood supply safe from the AIDS virus and detect conditions early enough for successful treatment. Alongside, consumers enjoy biotech foods, such as papaya, soybeans and corn, and hundreds of bio-pesticides have been produced and used to improve food supply and reduce farmers' dependence on conventional chemical and hazardous pesticides. The Organization also reported that, as of December 1999, there were between 1,200 and 1,300 biotech firms in the U.S., which directly employ more than 150,000 people and indirectly generate almost 300,000 other jobs through companies, which supply inputs, goods or services to the industry and biotech employees. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (2001), the total number of patents granted to U.S. corporations, the U.S. government and individuals has gone up from 1,200 in 1985 to 5,500 in 2000. The industry is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Hand).

A study was conducted on the profitability and business implications of substantial intellectual capital inputted by biotechnology scientists, especially productive star scientists, who are able to capture supra-normal returns to the company from their intellectual capital (Hand 2002). It was found that these American star scientists actively produced academic publications in determining when and where commercial firms… [END OF PREVIEW]

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