Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Biotech Foods
Name: Leila
Status: Student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

Are biotech foods better that organic? what exactly are the diffinitions of both? is one harder to produce than the other?

The definition of biotechnology is using living organisms to make things easier for human beings. Biotech has been used since the beginning of recorded time. For example, making wine, bread, cheese and fermented dairy products such as yogurt are examples of biotech. I think what most people think of as biotech is actually genetic engineering which is only a part of biotech. Genetic engineering involves the change of the genetic makeup of an organism by either inserting genes or deleting genes. For example, Bt corn is corn that has been engineered to contain a gene for a toxin that kills the european corn borer which is highly destructive to the corn crop. This toxin comes from a bacteria that is found in the environment and naturally repells this organism. Organic farmers and gardeners have been using this in powdered form for years. Scientists found a way to insert the gene right into the plant so that the plant produces the toxin and when the corn borer takes a bite out of it, it gets a mouthful of toxin. Some environmentalists are concerned that other organisms such as monarch butterfly larva can also become poisoned by the toxin. Yes, genetic engineering is much more time consuming and expensive to do the research.

van hoeck

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory