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B4FA 2012 Tanzania: Beyond Phony Balance - Sharon Schmickle

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B4FA 2012 Tanzania: Beyond Phony Balance - Sharon Schmickle

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Presentation at the November 2012 dialogue workshop of the Biosciences for Farming in Africa media fellowship programme in Arusha, Tanzania.

Please see www.sti4d.com/b4fa for more information

Presentation at the November 2012 dialogue workshop of the Biosciences for Farming in Africa media fellowship programme in Arusha, Tanzania.

Please see www.sti4d.com/b4fa for more information

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B4FA 2012 Tanzania: Beyond Phony Balance - Sharon Schmickle

  1. 1. M Beyond phony balance A little knowledge can go a long way in terms of evaluating claims. Sharon Schmickle B4FA Media Fellowships October-November 2012
  2. 2. 1side + 1side = Confusion Is cigarette smoking harmful to health? Yes No Maybe Maybe not All of the above
  3. 3. Example from crop genetics The claim: GMOs cause mysterious and dangerous allergies. One side: Yes Other side: No Reader/viewer: Torn between the two.
  4. 4. Not so mysterious after all Experts were available to explain the nature of allergens. Journalists who bothered to find them became the front runners in coverage of the story.
  5. 5. In a nutshell A new gene often prompts the plant to produce a new protein. (Not always; sometimes an existing gene simply is switched on or off.) A protein causes an allergic reaction under certain conditions that depend on the form of the protein and the sensitivity of the consumer. A particular protein can and should be analyzed before the GM plant is approved for release.
  6. 6. Bottom line It was inaccurate to say that all GM foods were potential allergy bombs.
  7. 7. End of story? No. Journalists still want to ask regulators whether a new GM plant has been analyzed as a potential allergen.
  8. 8. Key point Check it out

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