What is common between vaccines, pregnancy test kits, and food products like cheese, and wine? They are produced by manipulating living organisms or using some biological processes. In short, these all are ‘Products of Biotechnology.’ Therefore, if we look around we come across the fact that biotechnology has surrounded us. What does biotechnology exactly mean and is it a recent discovery? Biotechnology is a branch of applied science that combines biological processes and engineering sciences to produce useful commercial products. It is not a recent discovery that happened a few years back but an age-old technique used by our ancestors. It gets evolved and still evolving over a period with the efforts of scientists. To know more about the discovery of biotechnology, we need to travel back in history. Károly Ereky, a Hungarian agro-engineer, is credited as the person who first coined the term ‘biotechnology’ in 1919. Due to his significant contribution to this sector, he is often regarded by some as a ‘Father of Biotechnology.’'
Early Life and Career:
Károly Ereky was born on 18 October 1878 in Esztergom, Hungary. He completed his education in Budapest and Berlin, where he studied agricultural engineering. After completing his education, he worked as a machine designer for several paper and food industries in Vienna, Austria. In 1919, he became the Hungarian Minister of Food. During this period, he became more interested in the potential of biological processes to improve food production and other industrial processes.
During 1919, the shadow of World War 1 spread over Hungary, the country started to suffer from food shortages. To tackle this situation, Ereky started experimenting with new things in food production. He worked on developing new methods for using biological processes in the agriculture sector. His ideas were way ahead of his time. He coined the word ‘biotechnology’ in a book he published in Berlin called ‘Biotechnology of Meat, Fat and Milk Production in an Agricultural Large-Scale Farm’, in 1919. In this book, he described the technology that converted raw material into a more useful product. He built a slaughterhouse for pigs and a fattening farm for 50,000 pigs, raising over 100,000 pigs a year. This enterprise was so huge that it became one of the largest and most profitable meat and fat operations in the world. In a book entitled ‘Biotechnologie’, Ereky reiterated that biotechnology could provide solutions to societal crises, such as food and energy shortages. According to him, the term ‘biotechnology’ indicated the process by which raw material could be biologically converted into socially useful products.
Ereky recognized the potential of biotechnology and that it can be used for industrial as well as economic purposes. Some of his key ideas included the use of biotechnology in food production and other industrial processes, the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the sector, and the potential of biotechnology to improve the quality of life for individuals and society.
Overall, Károly Ereky laid the foundation for the today’s modern biotechnology sector and his ideas still continues to shape this sector. His innovative work and vision regarding the future of biotechnology field had a lasting impact on the development of the same and have helped to create a more sustainable and equitable world. Overall, Károly Ereky laid the foundation for today’s modern biotechnology sector and his ideas still continue to shape this sector. His innovative work and vision regarding the future of the biotechnology field had a lasting impact on the development of the same and have helped to create a more sustainable and equitable world.
On 19 September 1946, Ereky was sent to prison for his counter-revolutionary role in Hungary. He died there on 17 June 1952 at the age of 74.