The Origins of “Biotechnology”

The Origins of “Biotechnology”

Miller and Conko Article in October 2004's Monthly Planet
November 15, 2004

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Excerpted from Chapter 1 of The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution, by Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko (Praeger, 2004).

Thirty years ago, headlines in scientific journals and popular media announced the arrival of a “biological revolution” and the resulting transformation of research, industries, and consumer products in ways never thought possible. “Biotechnology” would convert bacteria into miniature factories to make drugs and fine chemicals; and “genetically engineered” plants and animals would be used for food products with characteristics unachievable through traditional breeding. Companies were founded by the hundreds, private investment soared, and stock markets couldn’t get enough of their newfound darlings.