Enlighten Knowledge Integrated Science for Senior High Schools, BIOTECHNOLOGY.


What is Biotechnology?

  • Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to either make or change products to improve human life.
  • It can also be defined as the industrial and commercial use of biological species (microbes or organisms) or biological processes to produce industrial products or services.
  • Biotechnology can also refer to an industrial and commercial application of biological principles particularly the use of microorganisms, enzymology, and genetic engineering to produce useful materials for human use.

Give examples of industries that apply biotechnology

There are many industries whose activities are based on biotechnology. These industries include the following:

Brewing, fermentation, and wine-making industry;

  • Alcoholic drinks including wine, beer, gin, palm wine, pito, and akpeteshie.

Food processing and manufacturing industry;

  • Bread, kenkey, banku, cheese, yoghurt, and butter making.

Drug manufacturing industry or pharmaceutical industry;

  • Antibiotics (e.g., penicillin and streptomycin), hormones, vitamins, and antibodies.

Energy industry;

  • Biogas production.

Tanning industry;

  • Leather production.

Genetic engineering;

  • Treatment of genetic disorders and criminal detection through DNA fingerprint.

Agricultural industry;

  • Application of genetic engineering to produce animals and plants with desirable characteristics.

Environmental management Bioremediation (the use of living organisms to clean up the environment).

How Biotechnology is applied in Health and Medicine

  • Production of human or animal drugs or vaccines.
  • Diagnosis of infectious diseases.
  • Production of antibodies.
  • Production of hormones.
  • Production of vitamins (production of enzymes e.g., Vitamin C, B12, and Riboflavin).
  • Transfer of genes in the genetic engineering processes.

How Biotechnology is applied in food processing and manufacturing

  • Yeast or fungi are used for bread and kenkey making.
  • Bacteria are used for cheese, yoghurt, and butter making.
  • Yeasts are used to prepare alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, palm wine, gin, pito, and akpeteshie.
  • One important application of biotechnology that needs mentioning is in the leather industry where bacteria are used for leather making.
  • All three applications above are based on fermentation. Hence Biotechnology involves fermentation.

Explain tissue culture.

Tissue culture is the method of growing a very small amount of plant tissue in a nutrient solution to produce identical new plants in large quantities.

Advantages of tissue culture

  • Required very little space
  • New plants produced from tissue culture are disease-free.
  • Can also be grown all year because it has no problem with the weather.
  • The growth rate is also very fast and can produce thousands of plantlets in a few weeks.
  • New plants can be grown.

Application of tissue culture

  • Quick production of plants.
  • Production of large quantities of plants.
  • Production of high-quality plants.
  • Production of disease-free varieties of new plant species.
  • Production of plants can be programmed to meet regular demand throughout the year.
  • It enhances plant importation and exportation.

Places where tissue culture laboratories are located in Ghana are;

  • Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (in Accra).
  • Crop Research Institute (in Kumasi).
  • Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (GRIG) (at Tafo).
  • Plant Genetic Research Institute (at Bunsu).


  • Biogas is defined as a mixture of gases produced from anaerobic digestion (fermentation) of organic waste.
  • The main constituents of biogas are the hydrocarbon called methane (CH,) and carbon dioxide gas (CO,).
  • However, the percentage content of hydrocarbon (methane) is higher than that of carbon dioxide gas (Co,).
  • In biogas production, other gases form part of the biogas but are in minute (small) quantities: Nitrogen is an example of these gasses.

Explain how biogas is produced.

  • During biogas production, the organic waste materials mainly sewage, animals, and plant manure are fed into a digester containing microorganisms such as bacteria.
  • The digester prevents atmospheric oxygen from coming into contact with the waste materials.
  • The microorganisms (or microbes) in the digester act on the organic waste to ferment it through anaerobic digestion.
  • The gas produced from this fermentation process is the biogas.
  • The biogas is collected through pipes or tubes into a gas cylinder which is used as fuel.
  • The residue left after the generation of the biogas is used as fertilizer since it is very rich in nitrogen.

Give examples of materials used in biogas production

  • Paper waste
  • Domestic waste (garbage)
  • Spoilt crops
  • Sewage sludge

Mention places where biogas plants can be found in Ghana

  • Appallonia village near Shai Hill
  • Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra.

Uses of biogas

  • Biogas is used as domestic fuel e.g., for cooking,
  • It is also used in industries by providing electric power for driving machines.

What is genetic engineering?

  • This involves changing (altering) the genetic materials in the cells of an organism, which results in a change in the normal characteristics of the organism.
  • It is also the insertion of genes from one breed of organism into the genetic material of another similar organism to breed an organism with desirable or attractive characteristics.

Give the importance of Genetic Engineering;

In Medicine

  • Treatment of diseases through stem cell cloning.
  • Production of hormones, and insulin for treatment of diabetic patients.
  • Production of growth hormone to prevent dwarfism and calcitonin.
  • Production of a protein called interferon to fight viral diseases.

In Agriculture

  • Production of disease and pest-resistant crop varieties,
  • Creation of different varieties of crops that are early maturing,
  • Production of high-yielding crops,
  • Production of better and beneficial characteristics in animals.

State the characteristics of farm animals bred from genetic engineering

  • They are docile and easy to handle
  • Animals will be able to resist diseases.
  • They will also have well-developed muscles.
  • The meat from the animal will be lean (not fatty).
  • High growth rate.
  • Very high reproductive rate.
  • Improvement of the quality of the species.

State the characteristics of plants bred from genetic engineering

  • There will be an improvement in the quality of the plant species or an improvement in yield.
  • The plant will be able to resist diseases.
  • The plant will have short growth seasons.
  • The plant will be able to grow well in a variety of soil.
  • The plant will have a uniform plant height to assist mechanical harvesting.

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