History of Biotechnology

History of Biotechnology

Posted By
Syed Muneer Dept. of Biotechnology, Beehive College of Advence Studies, Dehradun, India.

The word Biotechnology is actually derived from the fusion of two simple words “Biology” and Technology. The Biotechnology term was used for the first time by Karl Erkey, a Hungarian Engineer, in 1919. The Biotechnology may be defined as the application of engineering and the biological science in the creativity of useful products from biological raw matter.

The word ‘Biotechnology’ has received enormous importance and significance during last two decades, which is unprecedented. The beneficiaries from it to mankind led a greater attention towards this field. Biotechnology has touched our lives in all aspects, such as, food, health, and animal life, improvement of our environment and for better healthcare, replacement of fossil fuel bio-fuel .Thus it has revolutionized the modern life.


  • 500 B.C.:  the discovery of  first antibiotic, moldy soybean curds,  to use to treat boils in China.
  • A.D. 100: The first insecticide  produced in China from powdered chrysanthemums.
  • 1761: English Physian Edward Jenner pioneers vaccination, inoculated a child with a viral smallpox vaccine.
  • 1870:    Development of Breeders crossbreed cotton, developing hundreds of varieties with superior qualities.
  • 1870: First invitro corn  hybrid was developed in laboratory.
  • 1911: First cancer-causing virus was discoverd by American pathologist Peyton Rous.
  • 1928:  Alexander Fleming Scottish scientist discovered Penicillin.
  • 1933: Hybrid corn was commercialized.
  • 1942: Penicillin was mass-produced in microbes for the first time.
  • 1950s: The first synthetic antibiotic was created.
  • 1951: Artificial insemination of livestock was accomplished using frozen semen.
  • 1978: Recombinant human insulin was produced for the first time.
  • 1979: First time Human growth hormone was synthesized.
  • 1980: Smallpox was globally eradicated after following 20-year mass vaccination .
  • 1980:Principle of patenting organisms, which allows the Exxon oil company to patent an oil-eating microorganism  was approved by The U.S. Supreme Court .
  • 1981:  The first transgenic animals by transferring genes from other animals into mice produced by Scientists at Ohio University .
  • 1982: The first recombinant DNA vaccine for livestock was developed.
  • 1982: Human insulin produced in genetically modified bacteria, was approved by FDA.
  • 1985:   The Genetic markers  were  found for kidney disease and cystic fibrosis.
  • 1986: The first recombinant vaccine for humans, a vaccine for hepatitis B, was approved.
  • 1986: Interferon becomes the first anticancer compound produced through biotech.
  • 1988: The first pest-resistant corn, “Bt corn” was produced.
  • 1990: The first successful gene therapy was performed on a 4-year-old girl suffering from an immune disorder.
  • 1992:  Bovine somatotropin (BST) was approved by FDA for increased milk production in dairy cows.
  • 1993: FDA approved Betaseron®, the first of several biotech products that  had a major impact on multiple sclerosis treatment.
  • 1994: The first breast cancer gene was discovered.
  • 1994: The International Commission for the Certification of Polio Eradication. certified Americas  as polio-free .
  • 1995:  The  principles like Gene therapy, immune-system modulation and recombinantly produced antibodies enter the clinic in the war against cancer.
  • 1996: A gene associated with Parkinson’s disease was discovered.
  • 1996: The first genetically engineered crop was commercialized.
  • 1997:  The first animal cloned from an adult cell was made in Scotland namely Dolly(sheep).
  • 1999: The development of diagnostic test for quick identification of Bovine Spongicorm Encephalopathy (BSE, also known as “mad cow” disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
  • 2000: Virus-resistant sweet potato -the first biotech crop was  tested over  Kenya field.
  • 2002:  The first transgenic rootworm-resistant corn  approved by EPA.
  • 2002: The endangered species, banteng,  cloned for the first time.
  • 2003:  The China grants the world’s first regulatory approval of a gene therapy product, Gendicine (Shenzhen SiBiono GenTech), which delivers the p53 gene as a therapy for squamous cell head and neck cancer .
  • 2003: The Human Genome Project completed  the sequencing of the human genome.
  • 2004:  Biotechnology is a complementary tool to traditional farming methods that can help poor farmers and consumers in developing nations stated UN Food and Agriculture Organization  which endorsed the biotech crops.
  • 2005: The Energy Policy Act was passed and signed into law, authorizing numerous incentives for bioethanol development.
  • 2006: The recombinant vaccine Gardasil®,  developed against human papillomavirus (HPV),  first preventative cancer vaccine approved by FDA .
  • 2006:  Dow AgroSciences was granted  the first regulatory approval for a plant-made vaccine by USDA.
  • 2007:  The first H5N1 vaccine  approved for avian flu by FDA.
  • 2009: Global biotech crop acreage reaches 330 million acres.
  • 2009: The first genetically engineered animal for production of a recombinant form of human antithrombin approved by FDA.