Science journalism: Beyond phony balance - Uganda - November 2012
A little knowledge can go a
long way in terms of
1side + 1side = Confusion
Is cigarette smoking harmful to health?
All of the above
Example from crop genetics
The claim: GMOs cause mysterious and
One side: Yes
Other side: No
Reader/viewer: Torn between the two.
Not so mysterious after all
Experts were available to explain the nature
Journalists who bothered to find them
became the front runners in coverage of
In a nutshell
A new gene often prompts the plan 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
A particular protein can and should be
analyzed before the GM plant is approved for
It was inaccurate to say that all GM foods
were potential allergy bombs.
End of story? No.
Journalists still want to ask regulators
whether a new GM plant has been
analyzed as a potential allergen.