Biotech

Biotechnology includes a variety of techniques involving the use and manipulation of living organisms to make commercial products, such as cell and tissue culture, recombinant DNA technology and synthetic biology. As genomics technologies (gene-mapping) develop, it becomes easier for companies to read, store and analyse the genetic information of organisms or entire ecosystems (metagenomics). This means there are more and more opportunities for the commercial manipulation of life, such as in the fields of human biotechnology and biowarfare.

The genetic engineering of plants, animals and microorganisms has been going on since the early 1980s and the biotechnology industry has now developed into a broader 'life sciences' industry spanning agriculture, pharmaceuticals, energy and chemicals production. Biotechnology is now being combined with other technologies – nanotechnology, robotics, informatics, cognitive science and atomtechnologies - in a ever changing process of technology convergence. There are many companies involved in the research and development of these technologies.

Corporate Watch has a long history of research and action around many of these issues, especially genetic engineering and GM crops. We examined the strategies of biotechnology companies which were most heavily involved in trying to commercialise GM crops in Britain and the European Union in around 2003 - Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and Monsanto. And we continue to write about synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other biotechnology issues as the technologies develop and the politics around them changes, such as attempts to re-introduce GM to the UK. Corporate Watch continues to be involved in movements around the politics of technology.