Crop Biotech Update

Media Houses in Uganda Call for Increased Public Sensitization on GMOs

March 1, 2017

Media houses in Uganda have called for a wider sensitization of the public on genetically modified organisms. This was during a series of workshops themed ‘Engaging the Media on the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012 held in Kampala on February 14 and 23, 2017. The workshops were jointly organized by Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC) and Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, a not-for-profit organization.

The purpose of the workshops was to gather and address media comments, issues, and concerns on biotechnology and biosafety developments in Uganda. Over 10 media houses represented by their print, broadcast, and online editors took part in the workshops. The media editors noted that much as they were convinced about the benefits of agricultural biotechnology, more efforts are needed to sensitize the public especially farmers at grassroots. The journalists also called on scientists to package information on GMOs in a simple way, so as to help allay public fears of the technology. Expert presentations on common public concerns, and status of biotech research in Uganda were provided by scientists from National Agricultural Research Organization.

These were followed by laboratory and field visits to confined field trials (CFTs) at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI). The lab and field visits were meant to give the editors a ‘seeing is believing' feel of the GM research on-going in the country. The Outreach Officer UBIC, Mr. Nassib Mugwanya urged the editors to always double-check the facts on GMOs with reputable sources, before letting them out to the masses. He pointed out the growing trend of fake news as one of the biggest contributors to wrong information among the public.

The workshops ended with a commitment by media houses to publish timely and factual information on GMOs. "This workshop has refreshed our knowledge on GMOs and we promise to cover future news on the subject with more accuracy"-noted Mr. Edmond Kizito, a radio personality at Radio One F.M during one of the workshops. The workshops come at a time when there is renewed debate in parliament to pass the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill into law.

For more information on biotechnology in Uganda, contact the UBIC coordinator at ubic.nacrri@gmail.com.