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Although people tend to think of biotechnology as a new science, its roots are traceable back to over 6,000 years to the time when beer was first fermented.

the history of biotechnology begins when primitive human beings became down the memory lanedomesticated enough to breed plants and animals, gather and process herbs for medicine, make bread, wine and beer, create many fermented food products including yoghurt, cheese and various soy products and to create vaccines to immunize themselves against diseases and this goes back to between 5000 to 10,000 BC. Here are the stages of development of biotechnology throughout history:

 • 4000 BC Classical biotechnology: Dairy farming develops in the Middle East; Egyptians use yeasts to bake leavened bread and to make wine.

• 2000 BC Egyptians, Sumerians and Chinese develop techniques of fermentation, brewing and cheese-making.

• 1500 AD Acidic cooking techniques lead to sauerkraut and yoghurt - two examples of using beneficial bacteria to flavor and preserve food. Aztecs make cakes from Spirulina algae.

• 1859 On the Origin of Species - English naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution - is published in London.

• 1861 French chemist Louis Pasteur develops pasteurization - preserving food by heating it to destroy harmful microbes.

• 1865 Austrian botanist and monk Gregor Mendel describes his experiments in heredity, founding the field of genetics.

• 1879 William James Beal develops the first experimental hybrid corn.

• 1910 American biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan discovers that genes are located on chromosomes.

• 1914 Gerry FitzGerald's development and production of Canada's first diptheria antitoxin lead to the establishment of the University of Toronto Antitoxin Laboratories, later renamed the Connaught Laboratories. The labs now serve as a division of Aventis Pasteur the world's largest producer of vaccines

• 1921 discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto by Banting, Best, Collip and MacLeod.

• 1922 development and use of insulin in the treatment of diabetes.

• 1928 F. Griffith discovers genetic transformation - genes can transfer from one strain of bacteria to another.

Modern biotechnology or second generation biotechnology grew out of molecular biology and genetic engineering and emerged after World War II. It involved the integration of microbiology, biochemistry and chemical engineering for large-scale fermentation, sewage treatment, and for applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, is in its early stages.

• 1941 Danish microbiologist A. Jost coins the term genetic engineering in a lecture on sexual reproduction in yeast.

• 1943 Oswald Avery, Colin MacLead and Maclyn McCarty use bacteria to show that DNA carries the cell's genetic information.

• 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick describe the double helix of DNA, using x-ray diffraction patterns of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins.

• 1960's Olah Hornykiewicz, who originally discovered that Parkinson's disease patients had less dopamine in their brains, continued to contribute to the development of L-Dopa as a therapeutic agent while working in Toronto.

• 1961 Discovery of the hematopoietic stem cell by Toronto researchers.

• Early 1970's Paul Berg, Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer develop ways to cut and splice DNA, introducing recombinant DNA techniques.

• The 1973 breakthrough discovery of recombinant DNA became the platform for research in cloning, genomics and proteomics.

• 1974 Discovery of P-glycoprotein by Toronto researchers.

• 1975 Scientists organize the Asilomar conference to discuss regulating recombinant DNA experiments. George Kohler and Cesar Milstein show that fusing cells can generate monoclonal antibodies.

• 1982 First genetically engineered product - human insulin produced by Eli Lilly and Company using E. coli bacteria - is approved for use by diabetics.

• 1983 Discovery by Toronto researchers of the T-cell receptor, described as the "holy grail" of immunology.

• 1984 Kary Mullis develops polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to mass-produce specific DNA fragments.

• 1986 first release into the environment of a genetically engineered plant (a tobacco).

• 1987. First release of genetically engineered microbes in field experiments.

• 1990, the international Human Genome Project, a 13-year effort, is launched. The goals of the project were to identify and sequence all of the genes in the human genome.

• 2001 Due to effective resource and technological advances the Human Genome Project accelerated and a map of the entire human genome sequence with analysis was published.

Scientists can now manipulate DNA, the fundamental building block of life. Early results range from the manufacture of genetically engineered drugs to the cloning of Dolly, the sheep. With the completion of the initial sequencing and draft of the human genome, the next step will be the identification of new kinds of drugs. It is expected that the number of drugs identified, tested and commercialized will increase six-fold over the next 20 years.

 In addition to improved drug therapies, diseases diagnosis and treatment benefit from genomics; these new technologies may allow doctors to test individual genetic profiles against a group of drugs available for a specific condition in order to identify the most effective treatment within the next 15 to 20 years.

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