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Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture and medicine.

One section of biotechnology is the directed use of organisms by humans for production. The first application of biotechnology probably was the making of bread by using yeast, about 5,000 years ago. Today, biotechnology usually means the use of genetically altered microorganisms such as E. coli or yeast for producing substances like insulin or antibiotics. It can also refer to transgenic animals or plants, such as Bt corn. Naturally present bacteria are involved in the mining industry in bioleaching.

There are also applications of biotechnology that do not use living organisms. An example are DNA chips used in genetics, or radioactive tracers used in medicine.

Although biotechnology is publicly associated with cloning and selecting your childrens' traits before they are born, the goal of biotechnology is to advance the tools of medicine and solve problems related to the production of biologically derived products, not the whimsical manipulation of life.

See also : biochemistry -- molecular biology -- Genetic engineering