October 11, 2013
 
What is biotechnology?  A uniformly accepted definition of “biotechnology” does not exist.  In broad terms, it is the use of biological sciences to develop products, conventional plant and animal breeding techniques, conducted since the beginning of civilization.  In popular terminology, it refers to newly-developed scientific methods used to create products by altering the genetic makeup of organisms and producing unique individuals or traits not easily obtained through conventional breeding.  These are often referred to as genetically engineered, transgenic, bioengineered, or genetically modified. 
 
Biotechnology has been used to create many different products impacting agriculture including herbicide resistant plants, tomatoes that resist bruising, and vitamin enriched rice.  The development of this technology has presented novel legal issues as the law attempts to keep up with scientific advancement. 

 

The National Agricultural Law Center’s Biotechnology Reading Room, available here, has a variety of resources available including major statutes, regulations, case law, Center publications, and reports from the Congressional Research Service.