Ugandan Journalists Vow to Change the Rhetoric against ScienceMarch 14, 2018
The Cornell Alliance for Science, in collaboration with Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project, Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC), and other partners conducted a two-day training workshop on agricultural biotechnology for Ugandan journalists from March 9-10, 2018 at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge, Wakiso district, Uganda.
The workshop brought together representatives of the fourth estate from various media houses in the country. The objective was to provide tips and guidance on how agricultural biotechnology stories can be reported in a manner that is appealing to one's audience using the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project as a case study.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Godfrey Asea-Director NaCRRI expressed optimism that farmers will soon be allowed to use GM crops currently in field trials in the country. "Once the (biosafety) law is ready, we have a promising product to move to the next episode of deregulation and deployment," noted Dr. Asea while addressing workshop participants during a tour of the WEMA field trial at NaCRRI.
This comes on the backdrop of a protracted political stalemate regarding application of some modern biotechnologies for agricultural development in Uganda. This has resulted in efforts to get products of modern agricultural technologies, such as GM crops, into the hands of farmers stifled due to the absence of a national enabling policy. Uganda's National Biosafety Act passed by Parliament in October 2017 was referred back by President Museveni citing concerns that have been addressed.
The workshop participants deliberated on critical issues associated with science communication. They also brainstormed on a strategic way forward to change the rhetoric against science in the media and facilitate science-based decision making in a time of unprecedented urgency.
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