The history of biotechnology dates back thousands of years, much longer than the use of the term which was only introduced a little over 100 years ago. The first evidence of biotechnology is in the use of agriculture. This early type of biotechnology has been occurring since the neolithic era when farmers would select the best crops which produced the most yield. Though some consider calling this biotechnology a stretch, the principle of selecting organisms which work best is essentially the same, whether this process is applied to growing crops or eliminating disease in fetuses.
The early days of brewing beer also used a great deal of biotechnology and actually is still used frequently in China and India. Again, this is a simple process of biotechnology whereby enzymes are added to alter the fermentation process in some way. Another famous example of this type of biotechnology is in the use of pasteurization of milk which was done by Louis Pasteur back in 1857. Though the process was the same, adding an enzyme to change the fermentation process, the pasteurization of milk was quite different in that it actually changed the substance into something quite different.
Where the use of biotechnology began in breeding, human or otherwise, is still very much an open question. Many people argue that by selecting the strongest breed of an animal and using them to reproduce is actually a form of biotechnology. This practice has long been used by farmers and when it occurs in nature can be considered to be the process of natural selection. With the explosion of scientific knowledge in the last two centuries we have been able to artificially create the enzyme which alters the substance and thus the process has developed rapidly, though we can still use a natural enzyme which we find in nature.