versión On-line ISSN 0717-3458
Electron. J. Biotechnol. v.7 n.2 Valparaíso ago. 2004
Art, biotechnology and the culture of peace
Keywords: biotech art, cultural heritage, fermentation, peace.
Biotechnology, in its voyage from ancient times into the expanding frontier areas of today's world of scientific research, has revealed itself as the gene of diplomacy and international cooperation in the relationships between nations (DaSilva, 2002). Economic and biotechnological considerations, strong elements in themselves, drive policy implementation that draws upon the support and sustenance of the public's logic and understanding of science obtained through the avenues of art and culture. More and more scientists are teaming up with artists to harness the world of microbes and biotechnology in the pursuit of one's natural well-being, of the conservation of environmental heritage, and of human comradeship and welfare. Art and culture in revealing the human face of biotechnology help engender solidarity amongst different cultures. Furthermore, they nurture individual solidarity and collective commitment in especially young children ---tomorrow's architects in the quest of the culture of a sustainable peace.
Biotechnology, through the passage of time and its applications in agriculture, industry and medicine, has moved beyond the frontiers of biobased materials and revolutionized medicine into the domains of the arts, philosophy and theology. A vector that binds the haves and the haves-not of society in the frameworks of market-driven economies and worldwide poverty, biotechnology has contributed to the emerging trade profiles of the newly industrialized countries in the southern hemisphere (RIS, 2003). Some four decades ago attention was drawn to the catalytic role of microbes in diplomacy and to use of their 'technological carte blanche' for improving the quality of life and human well-being worldwide (Foster, 1964).
In current times, the human face of biotechnology and its societal dimensions and implications is being revealed and transformed through the arts, cine fiction, literature, and TV. More and more scientists are teaming up with artists to harness the world of microbes and biotechnology in the pursuit of one's natural well-being, of the conservation of environmental heritage, of human comradeship and welfare, and of mental and spiritual tranquillity ----the foundation stones of a veritable quest of a culture of peace pioneered in UNESCO and the UN system by Federico Mayor in his capacity as then Director-General of UNESCO.
"If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children"
Economic and biotechnological considerations, strong elements in themselves in motoring policy implementation need, nevertheless, the support and sustenance of the public's logic and understanding of science that nurture individual and collective peace especially in young children ---tomorrow's architects of a much desired sustainable peace through the avenues of art and culture. The concept of culture that impacts on economic development and prosperity embraces traditional beliefs and customary practices, the so-called high arts such as literature, painting, dance and opera; and all the elements of popular culture, including soap operas, M-TV videos, dime store novels, (comic strips) and blockbuster movies'. All these elements of culture influence "how markets develop, how they are perceived, and how people choose to express themselves as participants in the market process" (Lavoie and Chamlee-Wright, 2002). Culture matters in economic development since the latter is the guarantor of cultural heritage and of cultural advantages in the market-oriented economies of today's world. Cultural entrepreneurialship can make a significant impact since it drives national kinship and regional strategies in engendering a work ethic that helps combat, minimise, and eradicate the scourges of disease, hunger, lack of shelter, loss of inspirational and spiritual motivation, poverty and unemployment. Cultural heritage and legacy are the twin motors of technological advancement and economic development that have their roots in ancestral agricultural practices and food fermentations.
The practice of biotechnology in the cradle of agriculture ---The Fertile Crescent in 10,000 BC and its contributions to the evolution and spread of culture and languages beyond the then Middle Eastern arc of then peace, plenitude and prosperity ----and today's cradle of distrust, dissension and destruction, has been the focus of scientific analysis and technical review. Archaeological, genetic and botanical evidence of seed remains and of agricultural practices and tools reveal intuitive application of domestic skills in the development of cultural practices and rudimentary microbial fermentations in
Fermentation technology and art
Folkloristic manufacture of some 38 domestic-based traditional alcoholic foods and beverages by indigenous people in Asia, Africa and
"Your food shall be your medicine and your medicine shall be your food"
Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)
Discovery and study of the brewing reliefs of the
In 1624 D. Stolcius von Stolcenberg in
In summary, current folkloristic fermentation methods are more closely associated with the ancient Egyptian beer brewing process captured in the murals and reliefs in the tombs of the pharaohs as well as those in documented ancient papyrus records and writings. And, the successful replication today in
Fermented foods and culture
"Beer is a living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy"
The worldwide cultural heritage of biotechnology is found predominantly in food and nutrition. The food intake of millions of people since time immemorial has been influenced by customary beliefs and cuisine skills indisputably associated with the dietary cultures of the Chinese, the Indian and the Persian-Arabic civilizations in the Southern hemisphere. The application of traditional knowledge, emerging from repetitive domestic practices, is now associated with the use of a variety of rural fermentation processes in the preservation of food and food harvests. In addition, the incorporation of seasonings and spices has added to the flavours of fermented fish, meat and vegetable foods. Endowed with medicinal properties in some cases, and providing for easy digestibility, increased micronutrient content and enhanced food textures and tastes fermented foods like flags have become part of the national fabric and identity (Table 2). Arak (Lebanon, Middle East); Champagne (France); Hama (Syria) Ikigage (Rwanda); Jben (Morocco); Kaschiri (Brazil); Cachiri (Colombia); Kimchi (Korea), Masata (Mozambique), Munkoyo (Zambia), Patagras (Cuba); Sake (Japan), Sauerkraut (Germany), Surstromming (Sweden); and Tairu (Malaysia) are all well known examples of the mix of human and microbial skills that constitute the cultural art and component in the production of fermented foods.
"Bread has always held a central position on the historical scene. It is a never-ending source of inspiration, and a highly symbolic object that gives rise to great curiosity and provides a fruitful theme for creative minds"
Cultural heritage and environmental-societal relationships are enriched by the palette and patterns of colours of the artist Mother Nature that have been locked into her sculptural art and scenic landscapes and that have been preserved in the corridors of time for future generations. Environmental art with its calming, inspiring, soothing and uplifting therapeutics has also been used to make potent ecological activist and pictorial statements on issues of relevance to development, the environment, and poverty, etc.
"Since the turn of the Millennium, world concern over environmental issues such as pollution and global warming, species depletion, new genetic technologies, AIDS, BSE and foot-and -mouth epidemics has increased. Artists, in turn, are responding by answering collective cultural needs and developing active and practical roles in environmental and social issues"
Environmental or ecoart is about art, humanity and nature as exemplified in the biosphere reserves and multiple ecosystems. (Table 3) It is about aesthetics, biology, culture, chemistry, education, ethics, history, microbiology, physics, society and the environment and their interconnections with one another in the repertoire of Nature's heritage bequeathed to humankind.
The increasing pace of technology in the early 1950s ushered in the era of a grey galloping industrial technology that utilized the brute forces of heat and temperature of a petroleum-based economy to feed the culture of consumerism, and by consequence the culture of waste. Smog and acid rain containing the atmospheric toxins of noxious gases soon made known their presence. The 3Bs of societal status -big, better, and bountiful--the credo of the age of consumerism brought in its wake damage to the environment, realization of the finite availability of fossil-based fuels and the inescapable truth of the rising costs of the war against infectious diseases and malnutrition that were in metastasis mode emptying the bank of human health resources worldwide. The energy, economic and environmental security of the mid-1970s bear the scars of the use of oil as a weapon that paralysed and transformed the transportation sector, and that ironically gave birth to the concepts of the 3RS -reduce, reuse and recycle --that have become the foundation stone of zero-emission biotechnology in the framework of a carbohydrate-based economy that is rich in aesthetic, artistic, clean, green potential.
In this context and through the lens of hindsight, the series of the 10 Global Impacts of Applied Microbiology Conferences (GIAMS) organised in cooperation with UNESCO benefited from the wisdom of John Roger Porter (USA), Carl-Goran Heden (Sweden), Jacques Senez (France), Jan Wilhem Maurits
The GIAMS, as is now evident through evaluation and assessment of outputs, ushered in new grounds for research by students from the developing countries; and nudged the development of curricula by policy-makers in the emerging fields of environmental microbiology and geomicrobiology. Moreover, the series of these conferences attracted decision- and policy-makers to the human face of microbiology that was undergoing a transformation that was being influenced by the widespread application of innovative developments in environmental, food, industrial and medical microbiology. Blueprints and concepts for bioresource utilization, conservation of microbial germplasm, recycling of wastewaters, etc. aimed at sustainable development had already started to emerge into the agenda of international cooperation way ahead of the applications of the biotech revolution that was then being prophesised on the basis of new breakthrough fundamental research results with genetic engineering techniques.
In the last decade of a 30-year-old period of unrivalled international collaboration with the international scientific community emerging pilots and widely respected scientists such as Kei Arima (Japan) and Rita Colwell (USA), and Indra Vasil (India/USA) would bring new vision in devising novel collaborative partnerships with UNESCO to deliver the applications of industrial and marine microbiology, and of plant biotechnology, that would significantly contribute to a reduction in the worldwide divide between the generators and users of biotech knowledge (Electronic Journal of Biotechnology, 2001).
In UNESCO itself, the names of Michel Batisse (France), Anton Burgers (Holland), Maheshwar Dayal (India), Adriano Buzzati-Traverso (Italy), John Fobes (USA), James Harrison (Canada), and Federico Mayor (Spain) have become synonymous either with visionary science programming or the institutionalization of technological networking foresight in applied micobiology and the novel biotechnologies. Evidence of the fruit of such enterprising leadership and programming vision is resident in the number of extrabudgetary projects that were developed for Africa, the
Long-term eco-aesthetic project activities illustrate the utility of the four-in-one technology that integrates the principles of biosolar power, conservation of the environment, sanitary engineering and village economy to yield a gaseous biofuel -methane derived from solid biomass residues and grey- and blackwater biowastes. These developments result from the well-known integrated biosystems such as the Maya Farms (
The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972 provides a legal mechanism that helps to ensure the safeguarding of tangible heritage inclusive of cultural monuments, cultural and natural sites, and cultural landscapes for future generations. This cultural and tangible heritage however is at times open to deterioration, decay and discolouration resulting from metabolic processes of microbial entities and other biodeteriogens. The entire domain of the intangible component of cultural heritage comprised of the treasurehouses of the arts, the crafts, and the customs such as languages, songs, rituals, and agricultural, ecological and rural technical crafts, and ancestrally transmitted from generation to generation through several centuries is seemingly not covered by the Convention.
The time-honored classics "The Microbe Hunters and Three Centuries of Microbiology" reveal the role of microbiology in the internationalization of science and of research education. Developments in modern-day biotechnology have given rise to new frontiers in agriculture, medicine, ethics, biosafety, industry, intellectual property, legal obligations and cultural heritage (Brady, 1997; Brodwin, 2000; Ciferri and Tiano, 2000; DaSilva, 2003). Works of art ranging from buildings to books, wall paintings to textiles, and from sculptures to glass etchings are globally subject to defacement and degradation by microbial action. Environmental pollution takes it toll notwithstanding geographic location or gross domestic product country-status.
Use of miniaturized biosensors and molecular biology helps detect microbial activity associated with destruction of cultural assets -paintings and works of art, historical buildings and monuments in stone and marble (Pinar et al. 2001). The appreciation of cultural heritage and cultural property gains in time through use of information technology and biotech probes to monitor biodeterioration in safeguarding ancient cave paintings, stone mural graphics and subterranean mosaics. Innovative biotech-based approaches are now being designed to safeguard and conserve the archaeological, artistic and cultural heritage of
The conservation of the planet's cultural and physical heritage ironically is to be found in the dual physiological role of microbial influence. Biodeterioration and bioconservation involve methods that identify microbial entities that cause bio-structural damage and deterioration; and, that use microorganisms to reduce, prevent, bioremediate, conserve and restore cultural property and heritage. Often these efforts are accompanied by studies on the molecular aspects of ageing of paints used several hundred years ago. Bacterial intervention has been used recently in
The pursuit of science has been a significant factor in the evolution of art. Salvador Dali, Alexis Rockman, Mark Francis, Susan Rankaitis and the sculptor Tom Otterness were inspired by the discovery of the DNA molecule that is now an icon in the arts and the sciences (Gamwell, 2002a, Gamwell, 2002b). Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) is widely acknowledged for his mastery of science and art in his documentations of the human body. Indeed medical illustration and instruction derives from dissection and deduction as exemplified in the accurate and visionary classical "De Humani Corporis Fabrica"of Andreas Vesalius in 1543 (Dalke, 2003).
Harmony with nature provides an insight into natural microbial and biotechnical architecture -the cultural face of biotechnology (Ben Jacob, 2003) and into the structural ethics of creation of novel forms, and by consequence to the need for technical communication and peace with different cultures and peoples through the medium of environmental art and peace (Uiah, 2003). Current biotech controversies concerning biotech-derived food and feed products indicate that information and understanding will have no role in the fate of biotechnology which will be "based on the ideological beliefs and the cultural values adopted by individual human beings who, in turn, will shape societal beliefs and values" (Kershen, 1999).
Biotechnology and cover art
The arts and its components - the audiovisual word, digital art, music, paintings, sculptural art and works of prose and verse constitute a powerful medium for an appreciation of the culture of fermentation (Hodgson and Bormann, 1988). They contribute to the evolution of the human face of biotechnology and its significance for peace. Through the world of colors, drawings and paintings that emphasizes the cultured face rather than the delinquent side of humanity, biotechnology emerges to motivate and to inspire, and to appreciate the interphasing of culture in science and vice-versa through the looking glass of art (Figure 2).
Several leading and prestigious scientific periodicals have employed this modality to attract and educate the young, and to alert and instruct policy-makers in the biotech issues of the day that will impact on the sustainability of future environmental, economic and socio-cultural development for human welfare. An apt example, a novel potential teaching aid is the cover commentaries of Potter (2003), amongst others, that reinforce the work of time-honored exponents of the arts ---- Jacques-Louis David, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, etc., with the scourge of new and re-emerging diseases. Some of these emerging diseases result from the practices of domestication of animals and subsequent cohabitation with them as pets thus requiring periodic surveillance and epidemiological monitoring. Similar biotech art work is portrayed on the covers of the periodical dealing with beer with brewing techniques.
Notwithstanding that the intertwining of the world of culture with that of laboratory cell culture has its critics (Nadis, 2000), interest in the expression of biotechnology in the form of art is on the increase. Art galleries and exhibitions of paintings and electronic bio-art are eloquent witnesses of the "odyssey in art in science" (Palevitz, 2002) as the biotechnologies and "bioscience moves into the galleries as bioart" (Cohen, 2002). "Microorganisms in Art" was a prominent event of a joint meeting off the Australian and New Zealand Societies for Microbiology that focused on blending the art of microbial research with the art and culture of
"A monkey is a machine that preserves genes up tree, a fish is a machine that preserves genes in water; there is even a small worm that preserves genes in German beer mats. DNA works in mysterious ways"
Bio-art captured naturally through the implement of time in rock and stone is proof of the artistic genius of Mother Nature's creations and filigree handiwork in once living invisible microbial forms.Witness to the test of time, fossil biotechnology like genetic and microbial art involves the merging of the frontiers between art and science. The paleontological unveiling of the structural mysteries and symmetries of microbial and planktonic life provides an insight into early microscopic life and its milieu in the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transitionary (Seilacher, 1997). One such natural legacy bequeathed for future artistic and scientific research is the world of diatoms the priceless "jewels of the sea" that embody in their morphology myriad concepts of geometrical designs and kaleidoscopic forms that can only serve to excite and stimulate artistic minds in deciphering the cytoarchitectural handiwork of Mother Nature (Figure 3).
Biosci-art, indeed, varies in scope and range (Table 5). Also known as bio-art, it excites, intrigues, questions, teaches and unifies opinions and viewpoints as humanity moves forward through the motor of biotechnology. The forms of expression of biological art are many ranging from bank notes and stamps to works of art such as electronic games, music, paintings, sculpture and tapestries. For example, the visual Art and Exhibitions initiative of the
"'Genesis' is transgenic artwork that explores the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics and the Internet"
Bioart reinforces science, helps in the social interpretation of the pros and cons of genesciernce through the "theater of transgenics"; and, is of value in engendering public awareness and in functioning as a teaching and research aid in academic course work (Neave, 2002; O'Reilly, 2003). Moreover, bioart provides an aesthetic appreciation of scientific research and an environment that is pertinent to the conduction of high-level mental activity (Kemp, 2003).
The expanding world of bioart and of DNA aesthetics (Cohen, 2002; Kemp, 2003) has seemingly arisen from the work of pioneers in genesthetics (Davis, 2003), synthetics, and in the deciphering of the artistry of microorganisms that during colony development (Figure 4a, b, c) and under different environmental conditions produce a wealth and variety of scenic patterns that structurally mimic the natural structural beauty of snowflakes, etc. (Ben-Jacob, 2003). Perhaps, in the coming years, UNESCO's list of Digital Art Awards could be meritoriously enriched through the giving of consideration to the range of bio-art that has now come to be, in some cases an integral component of academic endeavor, and in other cases a key component of the artistic expression in facilitating the advancement and understanding of science.
Biosci-art can also be found on stamps and banknotes. In fact virtually every country has issued stamps that capture for posterity the range and wealth of plant and animal biodiversity as a tool for young scientists attracted by the modern fields of conservation biology and biotechnology. The pioneering work of microbiologists in preventive medicine worldwide in Belgium, France, Ghana, Hungary, India, Japan Peru, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay has been honoured philatelically (Doty, 1975). Microbiology meetings have been commemorated on stamps (Figure 5). Nicolas Appert and Louis Pasteur, pioneers in microbiology (Figure 6), and the fundamental discoveries of eight Nobel Prize geneticists (Figure 7), amongst many others, now constitute the artistic, cultural and scientific heritage of humanity. Biotechnology on stamps is science and culture across frontiers via land, sea and airmail providing a momentary inducement to participate in the enquiry of the biosciences; and artistic appreciation of international science and culture. Stamps also serve to educate and to make the public aware of the culture of fear and terror provoked by disease and its impact on human resources. The microbiologist Robert Koch has been honoured on stamps for his investigations and discoveries on stamps in
Like stamps, banknotes are more than just a medium of exchange of money. Currency notes promote a sense of solidarity in national and international participation vis-à-vis technological achievements. Apart from conveying messages of a nation's history, political and social advancements, banknotes are records of artistic, cultural and scientific contributions of human endeavor in the cause of bettering the quality of life of humankind. The labors of Oswaldo Cruz, Paul Ehrlich and Louis Pasteur are examples that have been recognized on national banknotes as integral components of the techno-cultural heritage of their respective countries (Figure 8).
Making the invisible visible and conservation of microbial heritage
Culture collections of microorganisms are storehouses of microbial germplasm and to a very great extent mimic natural conditions in which microbes exist and engage in their routine well-honed metabolic symphonies and orchestras of enzymatic action. Notwithstanding the unravelling of the natural genomic blueprints of microorganisms of economic, medical, environmental and industrial significance the challenge in the immediate future is to attract young researchers to the cause of research in taxonomy, biosafety, and biosecurity. Utilisation of biosci-art which captures the time-development of bacterial growth (Salleh, 2000) and colony enlargement (Raichman et al. 2003) could provide an incentive in attracting potential curators and researchers to further investigate the artistry of novel microbial species as in
Bioluminescent bacteria have been used by a team of artists and researchers at the
Students and researchers in culture collections have much to gain from the painstaking and meticulous work by the artist Wim van Wegmond using 3D photomicrographic and stereoscopic microscopy that provide valuable insights into the world of the miniscule living and invisble forms. The beauty of Noctiluca scintillans and Volvox aureus are online display in the Institute for the Promotion of less than One millimeter and the Micropolitan Museum of Microscopic Art.
Biotechnology in Literature, Cinema and TV
Much has been written about microbes and genetic engineering. Hilaire Belloc commemorated the microbe and its features in a well-known poem in
The arts have through the pen (The Secret, Brave New World, Genometry, The Boys of Brazil) and the palette of artificial and natural luminescent phenomena as in the green fluorescent bunny and the bioluminescent bacteria have helped to provide an insight into the mysteries of life through interpretations and speculative enquiry. Cancer, the scourge of the rich and the impoverished, induces a culture of fear and terror unexpectedly. Cancer, nevertheless brings forth ironically a sense of solidarity betwixt the potent and the poor in combating the virtually incurable disease. Moreover there is some sort of unspoken human communion that binds the afflicted from all strata of society (von Engelhardt, 2003). Cinema (GATTACA, etc.) and TV (Bionic Man and Woman) releases of today focus on topical issues. On the other hand scientists are breaking new ground through engagement in genetic culture and DNA-art, thus emphasizing the indisputable relevance of art to science and vice-versa (Durant, 1992; Madoff, 2002; Center for Genetics and Society, 2003; Miodownik, 2003; Monaghan, 2004).
Medicine and art
Medical art is generally believed to have first been recorded in the cuneiform tablets of ancient
"Medicine is a science from which one learns the states of the human body with respect to what is healthy and what is not, in order to preserve good health when it exists and restore it when it is lacking"
The documentation of the artistry of the medical skills and surgical implements in use in those ancient times bear eloquent and undeniable witness to the evolution of modern medical art that is now enshrined in museums and embedded in the archives of prestigious libraries worldwide. Two examples are the National Library of Medicine with its repertoire of exhibitions on the history of medicine.and the Wellcome Trust Medical Photographic Library with a focus on "medicine past and present, social history east to west, a thousand years of human culture" and the examples of modern medical art concerning clinical medicine and the impact of the modern pharmaceutical industry best are respectively The Art of Medicine and Pharmakon; and that featured in Medicine in Art .
Furthermore periodicals such as the Journal of theAmerican Medical Association (JAMA), Lancet and Nature Medicine, and the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology occasionally carry medical and biotechnical artwork on their covers as a means of transmitting learning and understanding to readers schooled in medicine and the arts. Classical sketches and computer imaging reveal the combination of art and science in furthering the healthcare for the welfare of humankind. Killick-Kendrick, 1988 shared his collection of humorous verses following an outbreak of an "epidemic of clerihews with men of science as the subject". The effects of drugs ranging from instant death to resurrection and from inducement of love and romance in a much desired recipient have been captured in a review of the "strange pharmacopoeia of opera and stage" (Max, 1988). The effect of art and music in healthcare environments is well-known. Aesthetic and graphic medical art and soothing music with their educational and palliative effects uplift sagging morale in clinical and hospital environments by engendering good-feel perceptions that reduce anxiety, pain and stress.
Music and microbes
Computer science has recently been used to capture from living cells the music patterns and soundscapes that result from the merging of scientific fact and knowledge with artistic expression and thought. In reviewing scientist-composers and composers who have ventured into science there is justification that music and science together constitute key elements of creativity and scientific thinking (Root-Bernstein, 2001; Parsons, 2003).
"Imagine the mRNA to be like a long piece of magnetic recording tape, and the ribosome to be like a tape recorder. As the tape passes through the playing head of the recorder, it is "read" and converted into music, or other sounds...When a "tape" of mRNA passes through the "playing head" of a ribosome, the "notes" produced are amino acids and the pieces of music they make up areproteins"
This rapid developing field opens up new vistas of science education and research through the teaming up of artists and scientists (Table 6) and bears witness to the changing way of doing and teaching science. John Dunn and Mary Anne Clark have captured protein music in an audio CD Life Music as a means to facilitate interest and teaching in the complexities of cell, micro, and molecular biology. An update of the physiological relevance to DNA music reinforces the physio-musical conversion of codons into computer-generated music with annotations of recent music (Gena and Strom, 2001).
"No molecule in the history of science has reached the iconic status of the double helix of DNA. Its image has been imprinted on all aspects of society, from science, art, music, cinema, architecture and advertising"
Martin Kemp (2003)
DNA-, gamma crystalline and protein-based music are examples in the learning of protein structure and biochemistry. The music of the plant proteins of medicinal plants and herbs (Table 6), has been tapped in a CD Music of the Plants (Long, 1999) to provide calming, relaxing and strength-giving ambiences in health clinics, spas, and dental and hospital environments. One may even dance to genomic music derived from encoding DNA sequences into MIDI sequencers and other music files (MP3s) to play genetic "tunes" (Knickerbocker, 2001). Artisitic molecules, singing plants and a "listening microscope" --- audioscope to listen to different acoustic signatures of different microbes have been part of Ars Electronica 2000 (
Unique microbe music recording real time actual growth and expressed in musical sound results from a combination of computing and microbiological skills. Using earlier algorithmic constructs and specific computer language (Prusinkiewicz and Lindenmayer, 1990), Jacques and Fran Soddell of
The interaction of the arts, music and biotechnology is borne out in the names of rock groups and album titles and songs that reveal a seeming awareness of microbes and genetics and their expression of the issues and the moods of the late 1960s and the late 1990s (Table 7). In current times, perhaps the debates on the pros and the cons of gene modification issues in the agrofood sector may have contributed to a seeming awareness of genetics that can be gauged from the discography database labels of electronic music - Genetic Music, Genetic Razor, Genetic Records, Genetic Recordings, Genetic Stress, Genetic Rhythm Records, etc.
Education and art
In recent times several initiatives have been made towards the development of a culture of appreciation of biotechnology and the appreciation of biotechnical applications in improving the quality of life and conserving environmental heritage.
"The use of music has become important as a way to enhance and influence more natural acquisition of information"
The mix of imagination, new scientific technologies ---biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology, and easily accepted modes of sustaining child and student interest over a long period of time constitute on one hand a challenge and, on the other hand, the difference in evolving patterns of science education. The challenge spurs school and college teachers to adapt and to transform their traditional teaching methods into modern updated techniques that give more meaning and substance to their crucial role as educators and then as agents of development of the policy decision-makers and the intellectual fabric of tomorrow. That being said, the difference in patterns of science education is reflected in the technological gap that characterises the four components of the planet's economic and technological categorization of nations ---namely the industrialized societies, the new technologically-advancing developing countries, the late developing countries and the least developed countries. New tools of science education involve computer self-teaching programs and CD materials, TV screenings and even the medium of the cinema. Useful as these are, they are, nevertheless, not easily accessible to poverty-stricken communities in the worldwide rural and urban sectors of the planet's pool of tomorrow's presidents, prime ministers, philosophers and philanthropists, and policy-makers as is evident in today's time-honoured and conflicting fora of Davos; Porto Alegre; and of Bombay starting 2004.
One attractive medium that combines the parameters of cultural heritage, and teleology - a quality that has been at the basis of many a scientific discovery, and its offshoot fiction that becomes fact as seen with Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc., is that of the comic strip. This teaching tool in primary schools (Rota and Izquierdo, 2003) draws upon the power of the pictorial-instructing and visual-retaining word to encourage youngsters to have a better appreciation of the potential, the pitfalls and the practise of ethics in biotechnology (Harms, 2002). Early initiatives specifically designed for young school children as well as for older people now seem well-justified (Figure 9).
Another teaching tool is the medium of music that is closely intertwined with human cultural endeavour inspiring and touching the biological emotions of humanity (Gray et al. 2001; Hotz, 2002). Music embraces the rich and the poor in a unifying bond of human consciousness; and yet, as a powerful tool transcends the intricacies of language and vocabulary in the domain of communication technology. And, whilst much of the neurobiological and physiological impulses associated with music have been deciphered, there remains still the unexplained the role of music in influencing human emotions and driving romance (Anon, 2000).
Research, student response and personal initiatives have shown that music helps instruct, improve and strengthen academic learning (Caine and Caine, 1994); and that is also a useful medium in the instruction of medical students to study infectious diseases (Landers, 2001). Food safety and lyrics by the food toxicologist Carl Winter (Table 6) are based on popular tunes and composed of rewritten lyrics to transmit the messages of food safety and biosafety educational programmes such as "We are the Microbes and Eat it". Other educational songs using attractive, popular, and easily recognizable tunes are:Mantenga Bien
Peace is more than the absence of war and violence. The obverse face of the coin of all-embracing peace has its origins in the roots of education, culture and tolerance whereas the reverse face symbolizes the resulting absence of civil disorder, societal abuse, and violence. There is much truth in "mens sano in corpore sano" that provides the basis for building the foundations of peace.
"In the absence of scientific evidence that GM foods are harmful, it's a tragedy that they 've been denied to desperately hungry people around the world"
Poverty, hunger, social intolerance, and lack of education contribute to the societal unraveling of the fabric of peace woven through decades through the threads of tolerance, social literacy, Trade wars such as the banana-export wars and the denial of biotech-derived foods to hungry and malnourished populations disadvantaged by their poverty-stricken status; ecological and natural disasters, and emergent diseases do not help. Communal mistrust, ethnic unrest, unemployment, poverty, social injustice, etc. constitute a dissuasion for the culture of peace that seeks advantageous one-upmanship amongst peoples in the international arena, and by consequence that feeds the trade and weapons market for high-tech bio- and chemical weapons.
"Friend and lovers may do you more harm than a designated enemy. A handshake may be as dangerous as a gun"
Disregard and disrespect for peoples and principles of ethics weaken the basic national and global cornerstones ---education, conservation of young and promising male and female lives, tolerance, etc., that drive a sense of racial equality, respect for gender, social diversity, and the security of an impartial justice so necessary for the cultural pursuit of peace given that most of the cultural heritage of the southern hemisphere is in collections and on display in museums elsewhere. 'Complex issues such as climate change, food and water security, poverty, HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases, biological diversity....demand innovative and interdisciplinary approaches from both the natural and the social and human sciences also taking into account the role and importance of local and traditional knowledge. Efforts in 'building a global culture of science' (Varmus, 2003) and by consequence of peace, must concentrate on eradicating bioterrorism that betrays a lack of cultural responsibility to one's faith and to one's peoples. The inviolability and the invincibility of the bright side of biotechnology must remain intact and prevail through well-thought out containment process and control protocol in combating the dark side of biotechnology that is being expressed through bioinsecurity, bioterrorism and biowarfare.Thus, artists, creators of novel art, intellectuals, scientists and researchers in bioart have an important role in helping secure worldwide a durable culture of peace.
Many developing countries constitute the cusp of the southern arc of the newly industrialised countries that are in the Far East, Central and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and in South and
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Jordan Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand, etc., have made impressive advances using biotechnology for economic development vis-à-vis availability and consumption of natural resources, and population growth. Biosci-art in these countries is more conservative in expression given their rich cultural traditions and heritage (Figure 10 and Figure 11). In addition, an awareness of transgenic art and bio-art exists through artistic expressions which though modest are nevertheless in progress in these countries.
The conservation of cultural heritage in the developing countries benefits from the - Use of aesthetic green technologies that contribute to their economic advancement
Diversification of biotech markets that generate income from small and-medium scale enterprises such as the banana industry in the Caribbean region; floriculture that earns foreign-exchange for rural communities and that embellishes the cultural tastes of the industrialized world; ornamental plants that enrich the aesthetic component of landscape management; and fermented foods and medicinal plants that draw upon domestic cultural practices in the conservation of human resources and that contribute to the development of rural-based self-based employment. Forward planning with an eye on sustaining meritorious endogenous development through investment in short-term intensive training at specialized microbial and plant biotechnology centres can help make a priceless contribution (Electronic Journal of Biotechnology, 2001; Vasil, 2002).
Since times immemorial an interaction between art and biotechnology has existed. Irrespective of whether the bread or the beer fermentation came first in the days of early Natufian culture, there is widespread agreement that fermented foods have been a medium of communication that binds the nutritive habits of different cultures and societies.
Moreover, current day market products of fermented foods result from the routine application of domestic skills enriched by feminine instinct and intuition in using 'starter culture' microbial machinery to provide sustenance and strength to millions of middle- and low-income families lacking access to much needed dietary micro- nutrients.
Biotechnology, in its voyage from ancient times into the expanding frontier areas of today's world of scientific research, has revealed itself as the gene of diplomacy and international cooperation in the relationships between nations.
In recent times there has been some sort of an explosion concerning the interaction between science, art, culture and peace. There is a growing interest in bioart that seems to appeal to the aesthetic soul of humankind. Max Delbrück's colour-coded toothpick message to Nobel-Laureate George Beadle was inspirational in 'expressing human language in the form of DNA "when" in 1958 no synthetic, or artificially constructed nucleic acids were available' (
In close interaction with information technology (IT) and nanotechnology (NT), biotechnology (BT) is undisputedly part of the corporate world. In never-ending evolution this interaction, arising from the convergence of the streams of knowledge of microbiology, engineering, chemistry, genetics and medicine, advances socio-economic development, and contributes to the culture and defense of peace. The devising of biosafety measures against emerging diseases and the development of a state of communal preparedness and individual readiness help combat confusion and uncertainty arising from the threat of sudden bioterrorism and biowarfare. Moreover, they are important elements in developing a culture of peace that derives from the arts and the sciences. Anticrop warfare has been identified as a destabilizing mechanism in seeding national disquiet, economic erosion and unsustainable development. And, biodeterioration and pollution are weapons of damage to national cultural heritage. Moreover, the intermix of the arts and biotechnology is now being appreciated as an important element of cultural heritage; and as a biological expression of culture and peace through the lenses of art, genetics, fermentation technology, literature, and religion. Such interaction can only help dispel the misunderstanding of biotech processes and the mistrust of gene-derived products that contribute to negative expressions of international cultural differences, trade wars and to the seeding of disquiet and disharmony that undermine the environment of peace.
Thus there is a need to:
(i) Appreciate the role of molecular art in the life sciences in socio-economic development.
(ii) Continue investing in the biotechnologies that will power bio-based cultural and economic progress, worldwide, beyond the 2010s.
(iii) Build upon the remarkable advances made by the newly-industrialized countries such as
(iv) Acknowledge the role of the life sciences in aesthetic and ethical technological progress.
Developments in biotechnology are evocative of John Milton's poetic works - "Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained". Research and technological acceleration in moving from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a carbohydrate-based treasury have given rise to a new category of biobased utility products, therapeutics and cloning processes that reveal the realities - pitfalls and the promises of a "Paradise Now"; and the realities of a "Paradise Future".
The use of art as a vehicle to appreciate science and to enrich the diversity of culture cannot be denied or dismissed as mere rhetoric as is so often the case. 'Creation draws on the roots of cultural tradition, but flourishes in contact with other cultures. For this reason heritage in all its forms must be preserved, enhanced and handed on to future generations as a record of human experience and aspirations, so as to foster creativity in all its diversity (Figure 11) and to inspire genuine dialogue among cultures. Art as a language of communications appeals to the inborn sense of appreciation of Nature's works and by consequence of non-violence. Art binds culture, science and humanity together to overcome societal impotence and paralysed governance. The four-in-one formula helps to nudge decision-makers into novel initiatives to eradicate poverty, environmental desecration, ethnic unintentional bias, and health insecurity of the young and the aged.
Art can enlighten science (Rothwell, 2004). One complements and draws upon each other for promoting public understanding and investment in science in subjects ranging from the bioconservation of the environment and space biology to underwater biotechnology and biodefense technology. Either alone or in combination, the use of artistic and scientific expressions brings a new dimension towards the teaching of the biosciences and in the conduction of bioresearch that unravels natural aesthetics in the morphological, metabolic, and physiological expressions and of technological applications of the 'weird and wonderful world' of biotechnology.
"Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it"
Pope John Paul 
As a follow-up of the dedication to his dream team of international scientists (DaSilva, 2003), the author dedicates this article to all those who collaborated with him through different governmental, non-governmental, and intergovernmental organizations.
A special tribute is paid to all those scientists from well over 100 countries, and especially to succeeding generations of MIRCEN and BETCEN Directors who have given freely of their time away from office and home in giving meaning and substance to the successful implementation of UNESCO's applied microbiology and biotechnological programmes. This includes also past editors -- Fred Skinner (UK), Jacques Nyns (Belgium), Jacques Senez (France) that helped the author launch the MIRCEN Journal; and especially the current editor Colin Ratledge (UK) who helped expand and sustain the journal now as the "World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology" into a bimonthly issue in hard copy and online format.
The selfless commitment and dedication of all past and current members of the Journal's editorial board for their contribution to the sustenance of the high-quality of the Journal is placed on record through this contribution.
In similar manner the author acknowledges the sterling efforts of Fernando Acevedo (
That being said, there is another dream team of scientific managers whose visionary approach and support in a 30-year period of international co-operation that needs to be placed on record. This dream team is as follows in alphabetical order:
1. Kei Arima (Japan/IUMS)
2. Amadou BA (Senegal)/UNECO/UNDP/ICSU -African Biosciences Network
3. Adnan Badran (Jordan/ Arab Biosciences Network; UNESCO)
4. Wim Barreveld (Netherlands/FAO)
5. Michel Batisse (France/UNESCO)
6. Mark Cantley (UK)/EEC/EU)
7. Reuben Olembo (Kenya/UNEP))
8. Mynt Maung (Mynamar/UNIDO)
9. Federico Mayor (Spain/UNESCO)
10. Vic Skerman (Australia/WFCC-WDC)
11. Walter Shearer (
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 As defined by the United Nations, the Culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations (UN Resolutions A/RES/52/13: Culture of peace; A/RES/53/243: Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace).
 "Culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs" (paragraph
Lionel Poilâne (1945-2002) "the best known baker in
 Term used freely and interchangeably with ecological art, land art, earth art, "ecoventions", etc., the term is used as umbrella-term to cover all aspects of art and sculpture in nature. See also: http://www.greenmuseum.org/ (definition of environmental art); http://www.ecoartspace.org/; (curriculum); and http://faculty.ssu.edu/~acn/ (art and nature conferences).
 a) PaintingCat Fight (1786-1788) by Francesco José de Goya y Lucientes in issue dealing with synoptic articles on Toxoplasmosis.
b) Painting Beware of Luxury(circa 1665) by Jan Steenin vol. 9. 1035 indicating that microbes in their transmission of animal diseases to humans are just "singing what they hear".
c) Past Covers of the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/cover_images/covers.htm.
 The Selfish Gene, ed Richard Dawkins, Oxford University Press,
 The term bioart (or bio-art), popularly in usage by the community of molecular biologists is also used to embrace genetic art and it synonym transgenic art. Generally-speaking artistic creations depicting the intermingling of the biosciences or biotechnologies with art are described as biosci-art another form of bioart. In this contribution, bioart is used as an umbrella term to cover all forms of animate and inanimate art that range from the artistry of microorganisms through eco, electronic, genetic art to classical paintings, musical expressions and sculpture, and inclusive of cine and literary work. It excludes environmental art1 and medical art.
The Canon of Medicine (Kitab al-Qanun fi al-tibb) by Ibn Sina (d. 1037/428 H). A rare complete copy made in
 The Wellcome Trust Medical Photographic Library is the world's leading source of images on the history of medicine, modern biomedical science and clinical medicine,http://medphoto.wellcome.ac.uk.
 See exhibitions at http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/ for The Art of Medicine and Pharmakon; and http://www.lemieuxgalleries.com/artist_medicine.html for Medicine in Art/Art in Medicine.
Hofstadter, D. (1979). Godel, Escher, Bach: On Eternal Golden Braid, publ. Basic Book Inc., NY,
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New York Academy of Sciences, April 30, 2003, press release.
Strategic objective 5: Improving security by better management of the environment and social change, In: Mainstreaming the Culture of Peace, ed. UNESCO-BSP (2002), p. 26, publ.
 Cultural Diversity and Creativity (Article 7; and Main Line of Action 15) in The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted unanimously by the 185 Member States represented at the 31st session of the General Conference in
Visions of Science is a photographic awards scheme organised by Novartis Pharmaceuticals in association with The Daily Telegraph to encourage ongoing discussion about science through an attention-grabbing image that gives new insight into the world of science and the workings of nature,
1. The World As you Never Seen It Before (Highfield, R. - filed: 20 September, 2001).
2. Photographs Capture The Sheer Beauty of Science (Derbyshire, D. - filed: 17 September, 2002).
3. Exposed: The Weird and the Wonderful (Derbyshire, D. - filed: 24 September, 2004).
4. Can Art Enlighten Science (Rothwell, N. - filed 13 September, 2004).
Note: Electronic Journal of Biotechnology is not responsible if on-line references cited on manuscripts are not available any more after the date of publication.