25 January 2013
Last updated at 00:10
Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to produce useful products. This mouse glows green under UV light as it contains a special fluorescent gene from a jellyfish, in a bid to mark cells for cancer research.
Another application of biotech is producing fuel by biological means. This petri dish contains colonies of genetically modified Streptomyces bacteria (red) that may produce cellulase - the enzyme that breaks down cellulose. These bacteria can ferment plant cellulose to produce ethanol for use as a fuel.
This cotton has been genetically modified in an effort to make it more resistant to pests such as bollworms and tobacco budworm. Genetic engineering is sometimes designed to be an alternative or supplement to chemical pesticides, although its merits are disputed.
These petri dishes and test tubes show different stages of the research and cultivation of transgenic rice, genetically modified by adding genes from different species. Genetic modification is usually done to try to make crops more resistant to pests and disease, or to promote growth.
Here, household waste composts produce methane, which is then burned to produce electricity. The burning process releases carbon dioxide, and it helps to grow. Here, chlorella vulgaris microalgae, used for biofuel production.
Pharmaceuticals is another area where biotechnology is widely used - to manufacture medicines using microorganisms.
Human insulin, used to treat diabetes, can be produced in factories using bacteria - whereas before, it had to be extracted from the pancreas glands of farm animals such as cattle and pigs.
Cloning - the process of producing genetically identical individuals - is another aspect of biotechnology. This calf was cloned using genetic material from a Jersey cow, in Argentina. One aim is to use cloned cows to produce human growth hormone (hGH) in their milk.
Biotechnology is also used for research into disease resistance. For instance, this mouse has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a condition people can also have. An abnormal gene causes leg muscles to waste, making animals - or humans - unable to walk. Researchers are looking into gene therapy to try and recover the muscles.
These larvae of genetically modified mosquitoes glow green under ultraviolet light. Researchers introduced the gene for enhanced green fluorescent protein into the mosquito genome. Recently, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry dengue fever have been genetically modified so that their offspring die before reproducing.
Scientists have been researching stem cells for quite some time. This here is a human embryonic stem cell (HESC). These cells can mature into any of the 200 cell types in the human body - which makes them a potential source of cells to repair damaged tissue in diseases such as Parkinson's. But research using HESCs is controversial because it requires the destruction of an embryo. (Magnification: x4900 when printed at 10cm wide).
Despite ongoing research into genetic modification of plants and animals, there are organisations and individuals that are against it. They point out the long term effects of their use are unknown and could pose risks to our health and the wider environment. They also say some farmers have racked up unmanageable debts trying to afford GM seeds and fertilisers.