Careers in STEM
Biotechnologists study the genetic, chemical and physical attributes of cells, tissues and organisms in order to develop new technologies, processes and products that are aimed at improving the quality of human life.
Types of biotechnology roles include:
- environmental - detecting and controlling pollution and contamination in the environment, industrial waste, and agricultural chemicals, creating renewable energy and designing biodegradable materials to reduce humanity's ecological footprint
- medical and health - using biomolecular processes to develop and improve treatments, identify inherited diseases, cure certain disorders, and even lead to organ regeneration
- industrial - using enzyme production to preserve and enhance the taste in food and drink, and developing enzymes to remove stains from clothing at lower washing temperatures
- agricultural biotechnology - using a range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques and genetic engineering, to alter living organisms to help improve the quality and quantity of food products, for example, by increasing pest resistance in crops
- biofuels - using organic compounds to reduce the cost of bio-refining reagents and put biofuels on an equal footing with fossil fuels, and creating chemicals from renewable biomass to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Particular ethical debates related to biotechnology include: the competition over land between crops grown for biofuels and those grown for food; the potential for research to be weaponised; the potential environmental impacts of genetically modified organisations; and the use of animal experimentation in some areas of research.