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Abstract

Biotechnology is considered as a driving force of progress and simultaneously as a major threat of humanity. Although there several classifications of biotechnology, the one using color code is most popularly used. Most commonly four major colors are considered, namely red, green, white and purple. However classifications using many more colors, nearly all tones of rainbow, also exist.
science
814 • nr 8/2012 • tom 66
Rainbow code of biotechnology
Paweł KAFARSKI Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, Wrocław University
of Technology
Please cite as: CHEMIK 2012, 66, 8, 811-816

Biotechnology is considered as one of the disciplines, development
of which will decide about proper evolution of economy in XXI century.
It is a broad area of technical activity and its development is dependent
on cooperation between various disciplines of science. Paradoxically,
being a new branch of science, biotechnology is simultaneously one of
the oldest branches of economic activity.
Term “biotechnology” derives from three Greek words: bios (βίος)
- life; technos (τεχνηος) – technology and logos (λόγος) - thinking.
There exist a vast variety of denitions of biotechnology. Presumably
the most general one is given by The United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity, which states that it is „any technological application
that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to
make or modify products or processes for specic use.” Perhaps the
simplest one is provided by Wikipedia, which denes biotechnology
as a eld of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms
and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other elds
requiring bioproducts [1]. Finally, also the denition of Polish Ministry
of Science and Higher Education, adapted after OECD (Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development) should be given here.
It says that „Biotechnology is interdisciplinary branch of science and
technology dealing with transformation of living and inanimate matter by
the use of living organisms, their parts or products derived from them,
as well as creation of models of biological processes in order to produce
knowledge, goods and services”.

Although there several classications of biotechnology, the
one using color code is most popularly used. Most commonly four
major colors are considered, namely red, green, white and purple.
However classications using many more colors, nearly all tones
of rainbow, also exist.
As any classication also this one is not precise and synonymus.
Some of the colors describe very wide and well developed ranges of
biotechnological activities, while other ones are dedicated to branches
being in their infant forms. Quite obviously various authors present
different classications, which not necessarily are the same. For example,
many literature sources under the name “white biotechnology” code
both industrial processes and environmental engineering, whereas some
others divide these two branches under white and gray code. Different
division of industrial and environmental biotechnologies is also based
on the use of genetically modied organisms (white biotechnology)
and traditional fermentations (gray one). As seen from these examples
color code of biotechnology is being formed now and should not be
treated as orthodox.
The biggest number of colors is used by the code, which divides
biotechnologies into (Electronic Journal of Biotechnology):
green one, which is devoted to the development of agriculture
yellow one, which might be called nutritional biotechnology
red one, which is devoted to medicine and human health
white one, namely industrial biotechnology
gray one, which is devoted to the problems of environmental
protection
blue biotechnology of marine (aquatic) regions
brown biotechnology of dessert and dry regions
gold one, which is connected with bioinformatics, computer
science and chip technology
violet one, which deals with law, ethical and philosophic issues
dark biotechnology connected with bioterrorism and biological
weapons.
This classication is also incomplete, since it does not consi-
der, for example, nanotechnology, which is being developed vigo-
rously recently. Luckily enough there are still some rainbow colors
left unused.

A far as in XVIII century reverend Thomas Malthus analyzed the
relations between population growth and availability of food [2]. These
studies have pointed out that humanity will face permanent shortage
of food resulting from that the growth of population signicantly
overgrowths potential of agriculture for producing food. That this
concept has not to be necessarily true is shown during last two
hundreds years when the production of food thanks to development
of science (especially “green revolution”) was sufcient or sometimes
even bigger than the needs.
Green biotechnology is commonly considered as the next
phase of green revolution and brings hope to defend hunger on
Earth. It uses technologies, which enable to produce more fertile
and resistant, towards biotic and abiotic stress, plants and ensures
application of environmentally friendly fertilizers and the use of
biopesticides [3]. Major technologies applied here are:
plant cells and tissue cultivation and micropropagation
application of molecular engineering for selection of plants (and to
the lower extent animals) with designed properties (GMO)
marker assisted selection - the use of tools such as molecular
markers or DNA ngerprinting can map thousands of genes. This
allows plant breeders to screen large populations of plants for
those that possess the trait of interest
reverse breeding and doubled haploids - a method for efciently
producing homozygous plants from a heterozygous starting plant,
which has all desirable traits.
The application of these technologies awakes emotions and
controversies [4, 5]. Unnecessary if considering that down of history
genetic modications were the basis of breeding of plants and animals.
Moreover, there is no example of domestic plant or animal, which would
not be genetically modied. Doubts and fears about this matter are
results of lack of knowledge about relations of these new technologies
with traditionally applied selection ones.
So called “golden rice“ is a good example here. It contains
genes of daffodil encoding production of β-carotene, a precursor
of vitamin A [6]. Traditional Asian food severely lacks in this
vitamin. Despite the fact that over 230 millions of people suffers
night blindness and the number of Asian children, who have to use
glasses, is alarming golden rice has not been introduced because of
the action of ecological organizations. Greenpeace has even named
this rice “Pandora’s box” [7].
science
nr 8/2012 • tom 66 • 815

Biotechnology in health preservation, medical or pharmaceutical
biotechnology are synonyms of red biotechnology. It considers
production of vaccines and antibiotics, discovery of new drugs,
regenerative therapies, construction of articial organs and new
diagnostics [8]. All of these subjects are not controversial despite
that they use techniques of molecular biology. For example tomatoes
protecting against cancers by increased level of anthocyanins [9],
or lettuce being a vehicle of anti-hepatitis vaccine [10] attached
considerable interest and goodwill. Transgenic animals-derived
drugs against life-threatening diseases, such as: antithrombin III
(against genetic resistance to heparin; produced by recombinant
goats and Chinese hamsters), recombinant blood factors (for
curing haemophilia; sheep) and α1-antitripsin (to cure emphysema
and pulmonary brosis; sheep and goats) [11÷15] are also fully
accepted. Gensulin, produced by Bioton, is also a good example
here. It is a recombinant human insulin produced by microorganisms
[16]. This drug enabled to save signicantly Polish spending on this
drug by lowering its price and decreasing its import. Far more
controversies arouse around genetic therapies because they resulted
in controversial results so far, making that it is still experimental-
type of medication [17].
There is a general agreement that diagnosis will be the basis for
further development of medicine. Huge potential of diagnostic methods
is based on the development of molecular diagnostics, various “-omics”
(genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and related ones), the application
of arrays of antibodies or arrays composed of enzyme substrates and
inhibitors and on miniaturization of diagnostic devices (such as lab-in-
chip systems) [18].
Companies dealing with red biotechnology comprise 50% of Polish
biotechnological companies and their number is still growing. Today,
many valuable products obtained by applying methods of molecular
engineering are available, to mention only: hormones, stem cells,
monoclonal antibodies, siRNA and diagnostic tests.

White biotechnology or industrial biotechnology relays on
application of biocatalysis in industrial processes. Such processes
develop dynamically and concur with classical technologies [19]. They
are worldwide used in: chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, paper,
textile, tanning and food industries, as well as in power industry. White
biotechnology is considered as the biggest branch of biotechnology
and deals with:
replacement of traditional industrial processes by biocatalytic
ones in order to obtain valuable products, such as: pharmaceuti-
cals, cosmetics, ne chemicals and food additives
production of biodegradable polymers as well as those of specic
properties (including “smart polymers”)
production of fuel starting from renewable resources or by the
use of photosynthesizing microorganisms (including genetically
modied ones)
production of industrially relevant enzymes and microorganisms.
Special emphasis is put on the use of renewable substrates
and environmentally friendly processes, what makes that
white biotechnology is considered as a component of “green
chemistry”[20].
Building up bioreneries is a new trend of white biotechno-
logy [21]. This concept derives directly from functioning in tra-
ditional petroleum reneries: the raw material is fractionated in
order to obtain a series of valuable products. Diversity of biomass
composition ensures both production of raw chemicals (such as
biofuels) and valuable ne chemicals (such as pharmaceuticals),
accompanied by generation of heat and energy required for proper
functioning of the plant.

As any new eld of human activity, which is entering extensively
and dynamically human life, biotechnology is causing doubts and
fears, as well as law problems mostly connected with patenting
of its inventions. Thus, quite serious moral dilemmas and ethical
discussions have emerged. This matter is a sphere of activity of
ethicists, philosophers and churches - thus convictions of people will
differ signicantly. This results in astonishing atmosphere of dispute
between followers and adversaries of biotechnology.
Appearance of these problems caused the formation of new
discipline of biotechnology, called violet biotechnology, devoted to
regulation and resolving of these problems and formation of a platform
for discussion [22]. The violet biotechnology started from June 16th,
1980 when the US Supreme Court came to a decision that genetically
modied microorganism can be patented.

The described four branches of biotechnology are considered as
major ones (assuming that environmental biotechnology is a component
of white biotechnology). In this paragraph three examples of the
remaining branches will be discussed, yellow, blue and brown.
Yellow biotechnology is, perhaps the oldes branch of biootechnology
because it considers production of human and animal food (however,
according to another classication yellow biotechnology refers to
biotechnology with insects). Nearly 10,000 years ago, our ancestors
were producing wine, beer, cheese and bread by using fermentation. For
example, Egyptians applied fermentation technologies to make dough
rise during bread making. Due in part to this application, there were
more than 50 varieties of bread in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago.
Today, the main goal of yellow biotechnology is improvement of
certain food to obtain the most nourishing one and fortied with health-
promoting additives. It is reached by enzymatic and microbial (also
applying genetically modied ones) processing of food, elimination of
allergens and components causing its intolerance or its fortication with
health-promoting components. So called functional food is of special
interest of yellow biotechnology [23]. It is also called health-promoting
or nutraceutical one. Idea of functional food derives from philosophic
tradition of Orient, since there is no strict difference between food
and drug. It is commonly approved that one of the means disease
prevention is appropriate and well-balanced diet. Hypoallergenic rice
discovered in Japan in nineties of the preceding century is considered as
precursor of functional food [24]. There are currently three directions
of food processing to obtain functional food inuencing gastrointestinal
tract, circulatory system and immune system.
Blue biotechnology is based on the exploitation of ocean and sea
resources to create products and applications of industrial interest.
Taking into account that the sea presents the greatest biodiversity,
there is potentially a huge range of sectors to benet from the use
of this kind of biotechnology. No doubt specic raw materials from
the sea represent the most widespread blue biotechnology in many
different sectors. These materials, mostly hydrocolloids and gellings
are already being widely used in food, health treatment and cosmetics.
Next-generation of biofuel produced by photosynthetic microalgae
is the newest marine-derived raw material. Most probably these
bio-oils could be used to manufacture a full range of fuels including
gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel that meet the same specications as
today’s products. Medicine and research are other major beneciaries
of development in blue biotechnology. Some marker molecules from
marine organisms are now commonly used in research. Enzymatically
active molecules useful in medicine, diagnostics and research have
also been isolated from marine organisms.
Brown biotechnology considers management of arid lands and
deserts [27]. They make up a large part of Africa, where two-thirds
of the continent is desert or drylands. Half the continent’s population
science
816 • nr 8/2012 • tom 66
is found in these areas. Also, some of the poorest countries in the
world, with heavy population growth, meager national resources,
a weak or negligible technological base, primary level education, and
inadequate technical infrastructures are here. Against this background,
the use of GMO technology could make a benecial impact through
the use of improved seeds and disease-free high-quality plants to grow
high-value commercial crops in low-rainfall areas. Especially cultivation
of desert crops, development of saline agriculture and aquaculture,
and the rational use of water, wastewater and other water resources
is of special interest.
A good example of possibilities offered by brown biotechnology is
one of the most fascinating projects, which was developed recently
by Magnus Larson, a Swedish architecture student, which can be
pout into practice [28]. His thesis is based on the need to stop the
spread of the Sahara desert using Bacillus pasteurii bacteria which
excretes gluing substances and calcium carbonate and are able to set
the dunes just like concrete after twenty four hours. These bacteria
are capable of constricting a wall of 6,000 kilometers long between
Djibouti and Mauritania. Larson suggested that it is possible to form
a wall from the existing sand dunes in the region trough covering
the dunes w Bacillus pasteurii commonly found in wetlands regions.
The bacteria are non-patogenic and die in the process of solidifying
the sand. This part of the project relies upon research carried out
by professor Jason De Jong at Univeristy of California at Davis, as
well as conversations with biochemist - professor Stefano Ciurli at
the University of Bologna [29].

Biotechnology is considered as a driving force of progress
and simultaneously as a major threat of humanity. This impetuous
controversy considers mainly green biotechnology. White and
red biotechnologies are far less contentious because they provide
perceptible, positive results from consumer or patient point of view;
often they save human health or life. It is, however, worth to note that
cultivation of GMO plants, although give rise of anxiety, are bringing
visible benets. For example, introduction of resistance of sweet
potato against one viral disease might bring in Africa 60% increase
of its crop, practically immediately without any additional cost. This
raises the question if satiated, white ecologist has a moral right to
undertake action against introduction of this GMO plant in Africa.

This work was nanced from Project “Biotransformations for pharmaceutical and
cosmetics industry” No.POIG.01.03.01-00-158/09-05 part-nanced by the European Union
within the European Regional Development Fund for the Innovative Economy.
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tecture.html
Translation into English by the Author
Paweł KAFARSKI, professor of Wrocław University of Technology and
University of Opole. He occupied and occupies many academic functions out
of which especially important was presidency of Polish Chemical Society. Co-
authored over 300 papers, which are cited over 3,000 times in the scientic
literature. His scientic interests consider design, synthesis and evaluation
inhibitors of certain enzymes for potential application in agriculture and
medicine, application of biocatalysis in organic synthesis and synthesis
and evaluation of biologic and chemical properties of aminophosphonates
and their derivetives. Amongst prizes and honors he highly appreciates
Jana Hanus medal given by Czech Chemical Society and Włodzimierz
Trzebiatowski medal awarded by the Senate of Wrocław University of
Technology. He is especially grateful to, dr Zbigniew Czarnuch (historian
at high school) and prof. Przemysławi Mastalerz (academic teacher), tutors
who formed his personality.
E-mail: pawel.kafarski@pwr.wroc.pl, phone: (71) 320 36 82
... Tarım, hayvancılık ve gıda alanlarında açlık ve yoksulluk ile mücadele etmek amacı ile ve tıp alanında insan sağlığının korunmasına ve hastalıkların tedavi edilmesi, ilaç ve aşı oluşturma amacı ile gerçekleştirilen çalışmalarda önemli gelişmeler sağlamış ve sağlamaktadır. Biyoteknoloji bu beş temel alanın yanı sıra günümüzde farklı alanları da kapsamasından dolayı alt dallara ayrılmış ve her biri farklı renk kodları ile tanımlanmıştır (Akkaya, Pazarlıoğlu, 2012;Kafarski, 2012). Biyoteknolojinin alt dalları ve renk kodları Şekil 1 de sunulmuştur. ...
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