Biotechnology uses biological systems or living organisms for the development of its products, mostly biopharmaceutical drugs. The key regions for the global biotech industry are the United States and Europe. As of 2015, about 670 public companies and over 200 thousand employees in these regions generate some 133 billion U.S. dollars of biotech revenue.
The United States is the leading global biotech player, with almost 108 billion U.S. dollars of revenue and the industry’s total market capitalization of some 890 billion U.S. dollars. More than 130 thousand people are employed by U.S. public biotechnology companies. The San Francisco Bay Area has the highest concentration of biotech companies within the United States, and accordingly also the highest biotech revenues.
Since 2014, Gilead, from Foster City, California, is the world's largest pure-play biotechnology company, overtaking long-time leader Amgen, also based in California. Of the top five biotech companies globally, four are from the United States. Since the acquisition of U.S.-based Genentech in 2009, Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has the highest biotech revenue worldwide. However, Illinois-based company AbbVie is the manufacturer of the best-selling biotech drug - Humira. Cancer drugs make up the largest part of biopharmaceutical research and development.
Biotechnology is also used in agriculture, mostly in form of genetically modifying crops to make them more resistant or more fruit-bearing. This issue is much discussed because of the possible consequences for the environment and human health. The United States is the country with the highest acreage of GM crops worldwide. For example, some 76 percent of all U.S. corn acreage is genetically manipulated. Top companies in the GM crop segment are Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience, for example.
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