Definition of Conventional Biotechnology: Characteristics, Benefits, and Examples

Definition of conventional biotechnology – Sinaumeds , Conventional biotechnology is a scientific field that cannot be separated from human life. Like other fields of science, biotechnology often helps people’s lives to be better and more prosperous.

Do you know Sinaumeds friends? That biotechnology has been known to humans for thousands of years, you know. According to the Ministry of Environment (LHK) website , biotechnology has been used by the Babylonians, Egyptians and Romans since 8000 BC who collected seeds for replanting or practiced selective breeding.

Later, biotechnology developed in 6000 BC, used in the production of beer, alcoholic fermentation, bread making, tempe using yeast. Then, in 4000 BC, the Chinese made yogurt and cheese using lactic acid bacteria.

Biotechnology products continued to develop until Robert Hooke discovered cells under a microscope in 1665. This discovery continued to be studied further until Gregor Mendel finally began studying recombinant plant genetics research in 1856.

The term biotechnology was first coined by a Hungarian engineer, Karl Ereky in 1919. At that time, Ereky defined biotechnology as the process of using technology to convert raw biological raw materials into useful products.

This interpretation is not much different from the current understanding of biotechnology. Over time, conventional biotechnology is becoming more and more modern and taking on more and more roles in human civilization.

Starting from food products, conventional biotechnology is now widely used in the medical field, such as for the production of vaccines, insulin and antibiotics. The following is a more detailed explanation of conventional biotechnology. Come on Sinaumeds , see the explanation!

Definition of Conventional (Traditional) Biotechnology

Conventional biotechnology is biotechnology that uses organisms directly to produce goods and services that are beneficial to humans through a fermentation process.

Conventional biotechnology is biotechnology that directly utilizes microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi. Then, enzymes produced by microorganisms and involved in fermentation (fermentation process) to create products or services are also included in conventional biotechnology.

By using the bacteria, humans do not manipulate or handle the technique. Humans simply create the right conditions and food for optimal bacterial growth.

Conventional biotechnology is often carried out simply and not produced in large quantities. In the food industry, fermentation is the activity of microorganisms in food to obtain the desired product. Note that fermentation is the process of producing energy in cells under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

Conventional biotechnology uses the principles or methods of making traditional products. For example, make duct tape by sprinkling yeast on the surface of cassava roots and letting it sit for 3 days.

This process requires the help of microorganisms such as the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae , the fungus Aspergillus sp and the bacterium Acetobacter aceti. As a result, these microorganisms change the taste of cassava to be sweet and has a distinctive aroma.

Characteristics of Conventional Biotechnology

As explained above, conventional biotechnology is biotechnology that directly uses microorganisms to produce food. The characteristics of conventional biotechnology are:

1. Humans have been doing this for a long time

The hallmark of conventional biotechnology is that it has been developed and used by humans for a long time. even before the construction of modern civilization. According to Saurabh Bhatia in the book History, Scope and Development of Biotechnology (2018) biotechnology has existed since 2000 BC when humans carried out fermentation to produce food, products and medicines.

2. Using fermentation techniques

The next feature of conventional biotechnology is the use of fermentation techniques. Reporting from the Science Learning Hub , fermentation is the process of converting sugar into energy by microorganisms.

Humans discovered fermentation by accident and fermented it a long time ago. However, it was only understood how fermentation worked when Louis Pasteur revealed it around the 1800s.

3. Mostly used for food

Conventional biotechnology is mainly used for food and beverage production. Common examples of biotech foods and beverages are bread, tofu, tempeh, tapai, soy sauce, pickles, pickles, kimchi, cheese, yogurt, butter, natto, miso, cider vinegar, beer, wine and nata de coco.

4. Not genetically modified

The next feature of conventional biotechnology is the absence of genetic modification. Conventional biotechnology does not carry out genetic engineering such as gene manipulation in the production of its products.

5. Direct use of microorganisms

Conventional biotechnology is characterized by the direct and intact use of bacteria or microorganisms. Where, these bacteria do not experience pre-manipulation like modern biotechnology.

Benefits of Conventional Biotechnology

The benefits of traditional biotechnology are:

  • Increase the nutritional content of food products in the form of food and beverages.
  • Helping the process of increasing the agricultural industry as a commodity production and trading industry.
  • Increase the number of jobs and increase people’s income.
  • Promote domestic industrial products.

Examples of Conventional Biotechnology Products

The application of conventional biotechnology has penetrated several areas of human life such as food, agriculture, animal husbandry, as well as health and medicine.

Food Sector

There are many benefits of conventional biotechnology science in the food sector. The reason is that this field became the starting point for the introduction of simple human biotechnology in ancient times. The following are examples of biotechnology products in the food sector:

1. Tempeh

Tempe is a traditional Indonesian food that is often eaten and is one of the favorites with noteworthy nutritional value. With a fairly high protein content, tempeh is an alternative source of vegetable protein.

Moreover, tempeh also contains a number of amino acids that are needed by the human body. How to make tempeh? Making tempeh is basically done by fermentation technique.

Fermentation was carried out by growing the fungi Rhizopus oryzae and Rhizopus oligosporus on soybeans. During growth, the fungus will produce filaments called hyphae.

2. Ketchup

The fungus Aspergillus gosia is responsible for making soy sauce. This fungus first grows on wheat bran. In addition, the fungi and lactic acid bacteria that grow on ripe soybeans damage the grain mixture. After experiencing long-term carbohydrate fermentation, Oncom soy sauce is produced. Has Sinaumeds ever eaten oncom?

3. Oncom

Oncom is a famous food in West Java. Oncom is made from soybean meal or peanut meal using the Neurospora Sitophila fungus . This fungus can produce red or orange dyes which are natural dyes.

4. Tauco

Made from soybeans, the manufacturing process is similar to making soy sauce using Rhizopus oryzae and Rhizopus oligosporus microorganisms . Tauco is also a fermented product.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt is made from milk. Yogurt is a fermented milk drink that uses Streptococcus thermophillus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria .

These bacteria will convert lactose into lactic acid. Another effect of fermentation is the breakdown of milk proteins, which causes milk to curdle. This is what makes yogurt sour and thick.

5. Cheese

Cheese is a food ingredient that is produced by separating solids from milk through a coagulation process. This thickening is done using Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophillus bacteria .

These bacteria will produce the enzyme renin, so that the milk protein will clot and break down the milk into curds and solids (curd).

In addition, the enzyme renin converts the lactose in milk into acids and proteins in the curd. The curd then undergoes a process of maturation and packaging to form the processed product we call cheese.

6. Butter

Butter is made from milk using the Streptococcus lactis microorganism . These bacteria form the acidification of milk. Milk cream separates the solid fat part and the liquid part is separated. The fat is then churned and compacted to make instant butter.

7. Bread

Bread making requires the microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae . These microorganisms will ferment the sugar in the dough into CO2 and alcohol causing the dough to expand.

During this process, bread does not break down flour into sugar because it does not produce amylase enzymes. In addition to expanding and giving flavor when baked, the CO2 vapor produced from the fermentation process also leaves a distinctive texture and makes the bread light.

8. Nata de Coco

Nata de coco (coconut extract or coconut water) is also a common biotechnology product produced by the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum . Nata de coco is made from coconut water with a fine white mass formed from hemicellulose fibers that form on the surface of the liquid medium where the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum lives .

9. Kombucha tea

Apart from these foods, conventional biotechnology also creates many products in the form of beverages. One of them is kombucha tea which is a fermented tea solution product with microbial culture. Brewing this tea uses molasses enzymes as an abundant sugar waste.

Enzyme drops are known as a by-product of cane sugar production. Even so, the content of organic acids and sugars is high enough to be used as a source of nutrition during fermentation.

Kombucha tea culture itself contains a lot of bacteria and yeast. Some of the bacteria in it are A cetobacter xylinum, Acetobacter aceti, Acetobacter pasteunanus, Brettanamyces bruxellensis. Brettanomyces intermedius, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida forma, Gluconobacter, Mycoderma, Mycotorula, Pichia, Schizosaccharomyces and Torula.

Kombucha tea is said to be effective in treating nervous and mental stress, hardening of the arteries, chronic fatigue, preventing skin aging, intestinal disorders, lowering cholesterol, treating colon cancer and both breast cancers. This is due to the different content of acids and vitamins.

10. Alcoholic Beverages

The use of these microorganisms also occurs in beverages and alcoholic products such as the production of palm wine, sake, wine and beer. Wine and sake can be produced from the fermentation of glutinous rice by Aspergillus oryzae .

Meanwhile, wine can be made from grapes or other fruits using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces ayanus through fermentation, and beer is made from grains of rice that have previously been converted into malt which contains the enzyme amylase.


In the field of biotechnology agriculture that is commonly seen in society, among others:

1. Hydroponics 

Hydroponics is a farming method that does not use soil as a growing medium. The planting medium usually uses pumice, gravel, rice husk, sawdust, rock wool, etc. This farming technique has begun to be widely applied by urban communities because urban land is often not as large as rural areas.

This technique can be done on a small scale. Whether it’s just a hobby or a medium to upper scale business that develops into a profitable business. However, for large-scale hydroponic cultivation in Indonesia, there are many things that must be considered, including the selection of plants.

How to grow crops/cultivate certain plants, by using or using water to meet the nutritional needs of the plants themselves and without using land.

Usually the water requirement for growing plants requires a lot of water input, but not for hydroponic plants because the method of growing plants already uses water.

This way of growing plants using water is actually quite effective and efficient, it’s not uncommon for many people to grow hydroponically in places that don’t have much water or have minimal water supply.

The definition of hydroponics according to experts is a form of growing plants without soil, but using water as a growing medium by increasing the nutritional needs of plants.

2. Natural Mustard Plants

Natural mustard plants underwent human selection to produce broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Animal Husbandry

Conventional biotechnology is also widely applied in the livestock sector, examples of its application are as follows.

1. Ancon sheep

Ankon sheep are sheep with short and crooked legs due to a natural mutation process.

2. Jersey cows

Jersey cows are dairy cows that contain more cream after being mutated by humans.


In the field of world health, biotechnology is also widely applied to produce medicines such as:

1. Antibiotics 

Antibiotics are medical products made from fungi and bacteria. With advances in organic chemistry, antibiotics can now also be produced by chemical synthesis. Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria that cause infection. Examples of antibiotics are penicillin and streptomycin.

Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent not only bacterial infections, but sometimes protozoan infections as well.

Antibiotics can be given as a preventive measure (prophylaxis) which is limited to high-risk individuals such as people with weakened immune systems (especially in cases of HIV infection to prevent pneumonia), people taking immunosuppressive drugs , cancer patients, and people who have recently had operation.

All antibiotics must be consumed until they run out. This is to ensure that all pathogenic microorganisms are destroyed to avoid emergence of microorganisms that will become resistant or immune.

2. Vaccines

Vaccines are products that increase the body’s immunity by using microorganisms or their parts that have been killed beforehand. Vaccines can be prophylactic (prevent or ameliorate the effects of future infections by native or “wild” pathogens) or therapeutic (eg anti-cancer vaccines being studied).

The process of administering vaccines to the body is called vaccination (or inoculation) by injection into a muscle or by intramuscular injection, usually into the deltoid muscle, such as the flu vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and the chickenpox vaccine.

This method is considered the most effective preventive measure. A report by the World Health Organization shows that up to 20 types of infections can be controlled and prevented with approved vaccines.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Conventional Biotechnology

Advantages of Conventional Biotechnology

  • Relatively easy
  • Relatively simple technology
  • Long term effects are generally known because the system is well established.

Disadvantages of Conventional Biotechnology.

  • Undirected genetic improvement
  • Does not solve the problem of genetic incompatibility
  • Results are unpredictable
  • The time to create a new stream is relatively long
  • It is often not possible to overcome natural limitations in crop systems, such as pest problems.

Differences between Conventional and Modern Biotechnology

While conventional biotechnology focuses on the natural selection of microorganisms, modern biotechnology uses genetic engineering in this process. Genetic engineering uses human skills to manipulate living organisms so that they can be used to create goods desired in food production, such as transgenic plants.

Conventional and modern biotechnology can be used to preserve food. Conventional biotechnology is used to increase the nutritional value and taste of a food ingredient, while modern biotechnology acts as a means to produce a food ingredient in large quantities.