Cartoons and other popular art forms such as comic strips and animation can sometimes be more powerful than words in conveying messages. They go beyond just giving information. By reflecting on popular contemporary ideas, cartoons elicit emotions that encourage interest, inquiry, and empathy.
Readers are attracted to cartoons because of its subtle humor and ability to communicate several messages in a visual and simple way.
PUBLISHED BY: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotechnology Applications (ISAAA)
CITATION: Navarro, Mariechel, Kristine Natividad, Sophia Mercado, and Jenny Panopio. 2012. Visual
Representation of Science: How Cartoonists Define Biotechnology. International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) and SEAMEO Southeast Asian Regional Center for
Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA): Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.
A study conducted by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) aimed to determine how cartoonists in Philippine national newspapers “define” biotechnology. A sample of cartoons published during 2000-2009 were analyzed as to message, tone (negative, positive or neutral), and use of frame, visual metaphor, and symbols. Absence of concrete products and unfamiliarity with the topic in the initial years of media coverage resulted in cartoons that favored the use of the fear appeal.
In 2011, ISAAA and the SEAMEO Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) – Biotechnology Information Center organized BiotechToons, a contest for cartoonists on biotechnology in collaboration with the Philippine International Cartoons, Comics, and Animation (PICCA), Inc. When provided with science based resources in media and expert formats, cartoonists were able to provide a broader perspective or more substantive overview of the technology.
Aside from the Philippines, other countries within the ISAAA biotech information network such as China, Kenya, and India are using different cartoon formats to help popularize crop biotechnology concepts and issues.