Biotech Updates

OFAB-Kenya Celebrates Excellence in Science Journalism amid Rising Concern on Misinformation

October 20, 2022

The Kenyan media have been challenged to actively play a key role in combating misinformation and propaganda about modern biotechnology. This was a clarion call made during this year's OFAB-Kenya Media Awards gala held in Nairobi to celebrate excellence in science journalism and recognize media's contribution in promoting agricultural biotechnology.

The Awards gala was held against a backdrop of a polarized debate on modern agri-biotechnology after the Government lifted the ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to allow efficient adoption of approved biotech crops and importation of GM foods.

Speaking at the gala, biotech stakeholders hailed the media for its invaluable contribution to the growth of crop biotechnology in the country and called on them to help in closing the gap between misinformation and evidence. The gap has been widened by anti-GMO crusaders who are keen to destroy the gains made in biotechnology advancement in Kenya.

Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) Executive Director Gerald Masila asked the media to promote a factual conversation on biotech singling out misinformation as a challenge in discussing science. “The media play a big role in enlightening the masses and informing the public factually; shaping their opinions and avoiding polarized debates on modern biotechnology,” he remarked.

ISAAA AfriCenter Director and OFAB-Kenya Chair Dr. Margaret Karembu applauded the Kenyan media for working closely with other biotech stakeholders to address information disorder on the technology. She acknowledged that journalists have led from the front in countering misinformation and creating public awareness of the technology.

Dr. Karembu, however, lamented the media's attempt to balance scientific facts with opposing opinions saying this disparages science and breeds grounds for misinformation and propaganda to thrive. “The danger of false balance, where scientists and non-scientists are given equal weight creates a perception in the public mind that an issue such as the safety of GMOs is scientifically contentious when it is not,” she said. “This attempt by journalists to grant all viewpoints the same legitimacy goes against a key principle in science that is based on weighing evidence to reach a scientific consensus,” Dr. Karembu added.

Ms. Sofia Tesfazion, the Director Resource Mobilization at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), attributed rampant misinformation on agri-biotech to inadequate capacity to report on science coupled with weak collaboration between the media and scientists saying anti-technologists have capitalized on this space to spread falsehoods.  “This situation has derailed decision making in favor of biotechnology both at policy and household levels,” she noted.

The OFAB-Kenya Media gala saw three top journalists feted for their consistency in reporting about agricultural biotechnology.  The overall winner will also be invited to participate in OFAB-Africa Media Awards (OMAs-Africa) to be held mid-December in Abuja, Nigeria.

OFAB-Kenya is a forum that endeavors to provide agricultural biotechnology stakeholders with an effective, inclusive and responsive platform for dialogue on all aspects of the technology based on scientific evidence. It is managed through a collaborative initiative between the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter.

For more information about OFAB-Kenya Media Awards, contact Dr. Margaret Karembu at

You might also like: