Biotechnology is an industrial process that uses the scientific research on DNA for practical means. Biotechnology is synonymous with genetic engineering because the genes of an organism are changed during the process. Because the genes are changed, the DNA of the organism is said to be recombined. The result of the process is recombinant DNA. Recombinant DNA and biotechnology can be used to form proteins not normally produced in a cell, to produce drugs or vaccines, or to promote human health. In addition, bacteria that carry recombinant DNA can be released into the environment under carefully controlled conditions to increase the fertility of the soil, serve as an insecticide, or relieve pollution.
Biotechnology and recombinant DNA can also be used in forensic medicine to “fingerprint” individuals and identify DNA at a crime scene. In addition, transgenic plants and animals are being created. Humans can also have the genes in their cells modified to produce proteins that relieve health-related deficiencies. Finally, at the time of publication, scientists at Celera Genomics and the National Human Genome Research Institute have sequenced a substantial portion of the human genome in an effort to identify genes linked to human disease. The sequenced fragments of DNA are currently not organized into contiguous reading frames. Although a substantial portion of the genome has been sequenced, it may require several more years for all the pieces to come together to form a complete and accurate genetic map of the human genome.