Although the name “Industrial Biotechnology” may sound away from everyday life, it is not only at home in sterile research laboratories and industrial plants. On the contrary, biotechnologically produced products can now be found in every household and are an inseparable part of our lives.
"Classic" biotechnology versus industrial biotechnology
Man used for several thousand years biotechnological methods to ferment e.g. milk into cheese or yogurt, to tan leather or produce alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. These products are even today produced biotechnologically – by using microorganisms or their components -, but they are here counted as products of the "classic" biotechnology because of their historical development. (However, there are split views about the exact classification, see "Definition".)
Microorganisms are the basis of industrial biotechnology
As living biochemical factories or as "suppliers of parts" (e.g. enzymes) microorganisms help to "biologize" purely chemical processes so that they are more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and / or energy efficient. The birth of modern industrial biotechnology can be dated to the 1970s, when for the first time restriction enzymes were successfully used for targeted genetic modification of microorganisms and completely new possibilities were created.