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Crop Biotech Update

Philippine Media Use Less Fear Appeal as More Farmers Adopt Biotech Maize

July 1, 2021

The use of fear appeal in reporting biotechnology gradually diminishes over time, according to Ms. Kristine Tome, Program Associate at ISAAA. She mentioned this as she presented about Fear and Modern Biotechnology in the Philippines in the Webinar on Researching Fear organized by the Philippine Association for Communication and Media Research, Inc. (PACMRI) and the Philosophical Association of the Philippines on June 30, 2021, via Zoom and Facebook Live.

The webinar aimed to discuss the concept of fear across disciplines to help communication and media researchers sharpen their conceptualization skills. Ms. Tome highlighted that providing facts to the public is not enough to diminish fears. The information must be packaged and framed with empathy and understanding of the target audiences' values and beliefs.

She presented the findings of the ISAAA study titled Seventeen Years (2000-2016) of Media Reportage of Modern Biotechnology in the Philippines, wherein the message frames and metaphors used in the articles published in leading newspapers in the country including Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Business Mirror were collected and analyzed. The initial 10 years of the study, authored by Dr. Mariechel Navarro and others, showed that most of the metaphors in the articles incite fear by highlighting inaccurate negative effects of the technology and allusions to scary creatures. Over time, as more farmers experienced planting biotech maize,  the use of fear appeal declined and the metaphors depicting potential or promise increased. In 2010–2016, biotechnology and biotech crops were described as "new hope", "answer to farmers' dreams", "salvation of the cotton industry", and "light of hope".

The other topics tackled in the webinar were COVID-19 and fear appeals by Drs. Jeremiah Joven Joaquin and Hazel Biana from De La Salle University; and the psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic by Dr. Michael Tee from the University of the Philippines Manila. Over 100 individuals joined the webinar on Zoom and Facebook.

Watch the webinar on-demand on the PACMRI's Facebook Page.

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