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Crop Biotech Update

Tanzania's Key Ag-Biotech Stakeholders Undergo SciCom Training

August 5, 2015

Agricultural biotechnology stakeholders comprised of scientists, journalists, and key officials from select government departments, including the Vice President's office, the Commission for Science and Technology, and the National Environment Management Council, underwent a two day issues management and effective science communication training workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on July 21-22, 2015.

The workshop, conducted by ISAAA AfriCenter under the auspices of the Program for Biosafety Systems, provided a platform for the key players to discuss about the strengths and weaknesses in biotech communications and issues management, and afforded them an opportunity to identify tangible solutions to their unique challenges. The participants were also equipped with the relevant skills to effectively communicate biosafety processes as well as the safety and benefits of GM foods.

According to a number of participants at the workshop, the training came at an opportune time given that Tanzania recently revised its biosafety laws to open the way for confined field trials (CFTs). "Now that we can finally move from theory to practice with CFTs, it is important that key stakeholders speak the same language and avoid giving conflicting messages," said Dr. Allois Kullaya, a Principal Agricultural Officer with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture and the Country Coordinator of the WEMA project in Tanzania.

The participants particularly enjoyed the practical component of the workshop where they learned how to create message maps for various issues and concerns that are raised by different stakeholder groups. They also got to apply the message mapping concept in mock media interviews that were based on a CFT approval scenario.

For more information on the workshop, contact Faith Nguthi on fnguthi@isaaa.org.