Food Science and Biotechnology

Food science is the study of the physical, biological, and chemical makeup of food; the causes of food deterioration; and the concepts underlying food processing.

Food scientists and technologists apply scientific disciplines including chemistry, engineering, microbiology, and nutrition to the study of food to improve the safety, nutrition, wholesomeness and availability of food. Depending on their area of specialization, food scientists may develop ways to process, preserve, package, and/or store food according to industry and government specifications and regulations. The tools of food biotechnology include both traditional breeding techniques, such as cross-breeding and more modern methods, which involve using what we know about genes, or instructions for specific traits, to improve the quantity and quality of plant species.

Modern food biotechnology increases the speed and precision with which scientists can improve food traits and production practices. For centuries prior to the development of this technology, farmers have spent generations crossbreeding plants or animals to obtain the specific beneficial traits they were looking for and avoid the traits they did not want. The process not only took a lot of time and effort, but the final outcome was far from guaranteed. Today, food biotechnology utilizes the knowledge of plant science and genetics to further this tradition. Through the use of modern biotechnology, scientists can move genes for valuable traits from one plant to another. This process results in tangible environmental and economic benefits that are passed on to the farmer and the consumer.