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SINCE the term `biotechnology' was coined in the 1970s, it has meant different things to different people. An early working definition in the mid-1980s put it as `the application of biological systems and organisms to technical and industrial processes.'
The early definition covered a wide range of old and new processes and products. These included enterprises from fish culture, production of enzymes for laundry detergents and genetic manipulation of bacteria to clean up petroleum spills or generate human insulin to overcome diabetes.
Today, many see biotechnology to mean genetic engineering and more specifically dealing with the manipulation of genes in any …