Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) suggested in December 2004 a two-part definition of biotechnology (with an update in 2005). The first part is the so-called "single definition" and describes biotechnology in general. The second part is the "list-based definition", which is to specify the single definition and particularly highlight the approach of modern biotechnology. Industrial biotechnology as part of biotechnology is not specifically defined.

The single definition of biotechnology is as follows: "The application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services."

The list-based definition of biotechnology as an exemplary list includes seven biotechnological processes and methods to usefully complement the single definition of biotechnology:

  • DNA / RNA: Genomics, pharmacogenomics, gene probes, DNA-sequencing/-synthesis/-amplification, genetic engineering, RNA.
  • Proteins and other molecules: Sequencing, synthesis and modification of proteins and peptides (including large molecule hormones), identification of cell receptors; improved delivery methods for high molecular drugs (for example glycol or certain lipids); proteomics.
  • Cell and tissue culture and engineering: Cell and tissue culture, tissue engineering, hybridization, cellular fusion, vaccines and immune stimulants, embryo manipulation.
  • Methods of biochemical engineering: Fermentation bioreactors, bioprocessing, bioleaching, bleaching, biobleaching, biological leaching, biological desulfurization, environmental bio-remediation and biological filtration.
  • Sub-cellular organisms: Gene therapy, viral vectors.
  • Bioinformatics: Construction of databases with genomes, protein sequences; modeling of complex biological processes.
  • Nanobiotechnology: Application of tools and processes of nano-and microfabrication to build devices for studying biosystems and applications in drug delivery and diagnostics.


Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): STATISTICAL DEFINITION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY (UPDATED IN 2005). URL: (release: 2012-11-13)