Dr. Faith Nguthi - The need for common strategies and approaches to communicating agricultural biotechnology


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There is a need for biotech projects to synergize their communication efforts.This is because they deal with copmmon challenges and face shared threats to adoption and use of the products.Dr. Faith Nguthi makes a case in this presentation for the need for ongoing biotech projects in Kenya to seek common strategies of communicating biotechnology.

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Dr. Faith Nguthi - The need for common strategies and approaches to communicating agricultural biotechnology

  1. 1. The need for common strategies and approaches to biotech communication in Kenya Experience sharing workshop, 14th Sept, 2012 Faith Nguthi, Senior Program Officer, ISAAA, AfriCenter f.nguthi@isaaa.org
  2. 2. Crop biotechnology• One of the many possible scientific options to improve agricultural productivity,• Has triggered increased interest due to consistent and substantial benefits.• About 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries have planted biotech crops spread across 160 million hectares (James, 2011).• Has sparked debate on perceived risks and safety and often caught in a maelstrom of controversy.
  3. 3. Biotech controversy• Widespread misunderstanding and conflicting opinions• Lack of distinction between established fact, myths and misinformation.• These conflicting messages reach across all aspects of the technology: – technology development and use, enabling policies, safety and regulation and socio-economic impacts.• Results to fear, confusion and indecision
  4. 4. Acceptance Issues related to Biotech Crops ISAAA• Food safety – food as safe, or safer, than conventional• Environmental Impact •Gene Flow – conservation of biodiversity – coexistence •Effect on non-target organisms – Target specific tech •Management of Bt resistance – durability, a challenge• Ownership of the technology •Role of the Private sector, IPR – public/private balance• Ethical considerations – the right to foodSource: Clive James, 2012
  5. 5. Public acceptance• Public will accept biotechnology only when individuals decide for themselves that GM crops and food products will contribute to their personal well-being• To make such a decision, ordinary people will need greater awareness and understanding of how GM food is safe, will affect the environment, human health, local and national economies, and the well-being of society.
  6. 6. Public acceptance• Key to public acceptance is the establishment of a functional regulatory system having legitimate authority to control use of the technology• Public awareness that such a system operates to protect the environment, human and animal health
  7. 7. Communicating along biotech Productdevelopment and Utilisation pathways- Stakeholder identification and Farmer Messaging release, post market surveillance Extensive risk assessment Field testing For each phase: Different Greenhouse stakeholders; different messages, Laboratory Source: PBS Docs, ISAAA collections.
  8. 8. ObjectiveThe goal of the workshop is to share experience incommunicating about various biotech projects• To identify areas of possible communication convergence and promote partnerships.• To identify opportunities that the projects can jointly engage to create the conducive social, political, economic environment necessary for the adoption of biotech products currently being developed in the country.• To establish a set of consistent, integrated and timely messages along the product development continuum, for various stakeholder groups
  9. 9. Experience sharingProject What How Challenges RemarksWEMASASHA, SweetPotatoBt Maize –CIMMYT,SorghumprojectBt cotton,DroughttolerancemaizeVIRCA
  10. 10. Expected outputs• Common messages developed along biotech crops development and utilization pathway.• Possible areas of partnerships and platforms for communication identified• A coordination committee established