Biotechnology refers to the study of using living organisms in order to produce products. The 21st century has many unique opportunities for those choosing a career in biotechnology which may have not been available in the last century. Working for a biotechnology company may encompass a number of potential fields, such as genetics, plant biology or pharmaceuticals.
Bio-pharmaceutical companies are involved in manufacturing medicines. Products developed by pharmaceutical companies include vaccines to control the spread of diseases, products which help in the diagnoses of diseases and, of course, products which treat diseases. Some well known bio-pharmaceutical companies include Amgen, the largest in the U.S., and Genentech, the largest in the world as of November 2010, located in Basel, Switzerland.
Forensic biotechnology companies are involved with forensic identification using DNA. Often, forensic bio-technologists work for law enforcement or a company which does DNA testing for law enforcement. The role of forensic scientists is to test forensic evidence and determine how it relates to human identification. Some examples of forensic identification include identifying suspects whose DNA matches the crime scene, establishing paternity or exonerating those wrongly accused.
Environmental biotechnology is a hugely expanding industry in the 21st century. Environmental biotechnology is studying the natural environment and finding new and better ways to produce renewable energy. According to the International Society for Environmental Biotechnology (ISEB), their mission is to find "a natural way of addressing environmental problems ranging from identification of biohazards to bioremediation techniques for industrial, agricultural and municipal effluents and residues."
Bioprocessing involves using microorganisms and enzymes to develop products. Bioprocessing has been used for hundreds of years to make bread from yeast, or yogurt from cultures. Recently, biotechnologists have used bioprocessing in order to produce renewable energy fuels such as ethanol or bio-diesel. Other examples of bioprocessing include stem cell therapy, gene therapy and vaccines.
- Stock pictures of drugs and pharmaceutical image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com