Cultural semiotics, translatability, and informational loss in visual texts of the biotech industry

Charikleia Yoka, Evangelos Kourdis


The paper examines a specific advertising campaign of a biotech company characteristic of the whole biotech industry and discusses how the evocation of universal values, such as the protection and correct management of the planet’s resources, the struggle against poverty and against the shortage of raw materials, the support of farmers and their families, distorts information about nature, global agriculture and the biotech industry’s products. This distortion is a necessary and vital part of this industry’s existence. The rhetorical techniques of conscious informational repression and distortion, which are often discussed only in terms of informational loss, are expressly evident and even taken to their extremes in the case of biotechnology. Yet on the other hand they are characteristic of a translation process that takes place in the rhetoric of advertisement in general, as is evident in the use of Göran Sonesson’s translation model which we suggest is appropriate for the definition and study of advertising codes.


cultural semiotics; translation; visual text; mass communication; biotechnology; critique of technoscience

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SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia