The relatively new and rapidly growing field of biotechnology encompasses several disciplines, including microbiology, biochemistry, and chemical engineering. The critical elements in biotechnology, which is not itself a discipline, are a biological organism or system, human intervention in the natural process, and the application of the results to an industrial process. One of the most dramatic and most basic examples of biotechnology is recombinant DNA technology, or genetic engineering, which involves the manipulation of genetic material. The production of genetically engineered organisms on a large scale for use in industrial processes combines the efforts of biologists and engineers. Microorganisms and other biological agents such as enzymes, whole cells, and cell components are used in industrial processes in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and food industries; and in energy production, agriculture, aquaculture, mining, waste disposal, and pollution control.
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