Biotech Updates

Agbiotech Awareness Promoted Among Media and Communication Practitioners in Vietnam

October 20, 2022

The 2022 Biotech Outreach Webinar Series for Vietnam concluded with the final webinar held on October 13, 2022 via Zoom. The webinar on Raising Public Awareness on Agricultural Biotechnology was organized by the United States Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) Hanoi and ISAAA Inc., in collaboration with the Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI) of Vietnam. It aimed to promote communication on innovative technologies that improve productivity and climate resiliency to the general public, and contribute to better understanding and reporting by the media on the safety and benefits of new technologies in improving productivity and responding to environmental impacts that will help Vietnam achieve its climate change ambitions.

Dr. Le Huy Ham, Chair of the AGI Science Council, served as moderator for the event. He introduced Sarah Gilleski, Agricultural Attache of the US Embassy Hanoi, who gave the opening remarks. Her message emphasized how public communication has an important role in conveying information about advances and innovations, such as genome editing, to the public. She mentioned that science-based approaches are critical to help the public understand that these products are safe and have many benefits for farmers, consumers, and the environment. She also said that there are many misconceptions about biotechnology making it a complicated topic that can be hard to effectively communicate, and that the workshop is timely as it provides the audience with useful insights and information on the best practices to communicate advances and innovations that will help raise public trust in agricultural biotechnology and its benefits.

The opening message was followed by a presentation by Dr. Lulu Rodriguez, Global Programs Lead at the Science Seed Center in the Iowa State University. The talk was about the recommendations for biotech communication given to the idiosyncratic mind and its implications for communication practice. Some of the highlights were how the public and experts perceive risk differently, how people seek value statements about technologies and innovations while much of science speaks in statistics and possibilities, how people have a tendency to interpret evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories, and how people are willing to take the risk once trust has been established.

Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, ISAAA Inc. Executive Director and Director of the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, talked about the different activities and publications related to agbiotech that ISAAA Inc. has accomplished and released over the years. She also presented the advocacies of ISAAA Inc. and how its different platforms have reached hundreds of thousands of targeted audience while also reaching more than a million pubic individuals.

Dr. Pham Hai Chung of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Vietnam National University presented about public communication of agbiotech in Vietnam. Her talked focused on the importance of communication for agbiotech in Vietnam in order to inform or educate to help understand a policy or program of agbiotech, to gather information in anticipation for public communication, to facilitate discussion among stakeholders, and to engage a large audience with a common agenda.

After the presentations, an open forum was held to entertain questions from the Vietnamese participants who were composed of media practitioners on various issues related to biotechnology, the local media and communication experts. The webinar ended with the closing remarks by Dr. Romero-Aldemita.

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