Monday, February 22, 2016

Biology, agriculture and veterinary science

The study of living organisms, which includes their structure (gross and microscopical), functioning, origin and evolution, classification, interrelationships, and distribution.

A Dictionary of Biology. Oxford University Press, 2000.

  • The science of living organisms
  • Two subdivisions
    • Botany (plants)
    • Zoology (animals)
  • Trend to specialization with many specialized fields, e.g.,
    • Cell, ecology, embryology, evolution, genetics, morphology, physiology, taxonomy
Life sciences
  • The life sciences is one of the fastest growing disciplines
  • Variety of definitions
Traditional definition
Life Science[s] 
Any of several branches of science, such as biology, medicine, anthropology, or ecology, that deal with living organisms and their organization, life processes, and relationships to each other and their environment. Also called bioscience.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Alternative definitions

We define “life sciences” to encompass companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeuticals, food processing, environmental, biomedical devices, and organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization.

Alternative current definitions

“Life sciences are to this century what information technology was to the last century.”
Harvard Business Review, March-April 2000.
“Life science are the corporate merging of agriculture and food, nutrition, health and pharmaceutical sectors with agricultural crop and animal production as the base platform.”
Art Sterling, government and industry relations manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred Ltd.
“Life sciences is being able to substitute plant technology into the human sciences.”
Tony Woulters, farmer and executive director, AgExcell
“Life sciences is science that will affect the quality of our lives through superior genetics in animals and plants.”
Loretta Smith, senior recruitment specialist, Prime Management Group.
“Life sciences is a new buzzword for the integration of biology, chemistry, molecular biology, physics, agriculture, and veterinary medicine, centred on improving our health and welfare.”
Prof. Chris Hall, environmental biologist, University of Guelph. Better Farming – Cover Story – August/September 2001.


“The scientific study of plants, including their anatomy, morphology, physiology, biochemistry, taxonomy, cytology, genetics, ecology, evolution and geographical distribution.”
A Dictionary of Biology. Oxford University Press, 2000.


  • Bibliographic control better than most other areas of science (fewer journals)
  • Two basic camps
    • Traditional
      • Refine classification systems; fit all categories of plants into the proper place
    • Furthering new knowledge
      • e.g. discovery of natural drugs from plants
      • More funding because of practical orientation (more commercial)
The scientific study of animals, including their anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, ecology, evolution, and behaviour.
A Dictionary of Biology. Oxford University Press, 2000

  • Four traditional areas of study
    • Taxonomy
    • Anatomy
    • Physiology
    • Genetics
  • Zoologists tend to use monographs more than other scientists
Characteristics of biological literature
  • >80% of biological research communicated in scientific journals
  • International in scope (19995 BIOSIS survey)
    • 50% from Europe and the Middle East
    • 30% from North America
    • 14% from Australia and Asia
  • Dependent on serial publications for dissemination
  • Interdisciplinary and overlapping
  • “…scattered, fragmented, and dispersed…”
  • Increased use of WWW (Human genome project)
  • Popular literature component
“Science, art or practice of raising crops and livestock for food or for other products useful to human activity.”
Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology

Branches include: agronomy (crops), animal husbandry, economics, engineering, entomology, forestry, horticulture, meteorology, soil chemistry.

Food science

  • The study of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of food through all phrases of its manufacture and processing, starting from the raw material and ending with its final presentation to the consumer
  • Utilizes the tools of chemistry, physics, mathematics, microbiology, engineering and other basic sciences to study and improve the way food is processed, handled, and preserved.
University of Manitoba. Dept. of Food Science.
Veterinary science
Veterinary medicine:

“Branch of medical science that deals with the prevention, cure, or alleviation of diseases and injuries of animals, especially domesticated animals, and includes histology, anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology.”
Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia

Areas of practice in Canada
  • Private practice 
    • 75% of Canadian vets
      • 35% large and mixed animal
      • 40% small animal
  • Government
    • 10%
  • Teaching and research
    • 5%
  • Industry
    • 5%
  • Retired or in other fields
    • 5%

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