Thirty-two Southeast Asian media practitioners learn about biotech reporting in SEARCA regional workshop
Participants, resource persons, and organizers of â€œBiotechnology and Biosafety for Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture: A Regional Workshop for Media Practitioners.â€
A total of 32 print, radio, TV, and online journalists, writers, and reporters as well as representatives from public research agencies and the private sector from six countries in Southeast Asia trained on reporting and communicating biotechnology in relation to food security and sustainable agriculture on12-13 November 2013 in Bogor, Indonesia. The 32 media practitioners came from Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam and participated in Biotechnology and Biosafety for Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture: A Regional Workshop for Media Practitioners held at Novotel Bogor Golf Resort and Convention Center.
The workshop was co-organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), SEAMEO Regional Center for Tropical Biology (BIOTROP), International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) and Indonesian Biotechnology Information Center (IndoBIC). It aimed to enhance the knowledge of media practitioners in the region on the basics, trends, and advancements of biotechnology and biosafety, and their current and potential contributions to food security and sustainable agriculture. The workshop also added to the knowledge and capacities of the media in communicating crop biotechnology and biosafety issues and in promoting responsible biotech reporting in the region.
In his opening remarks delivered by SEARCA's Knowledge Resources Unit (KRU) Head Dr. Mariliza V. Ticsay, SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr. said that objective, science-based, and evidence-based reporting is the key to help stakeholders realize what is in store for them and for the world when biotechnology is utilized and realized. He also emphasized the media as a key sector in Southeast Asia in properly communicating and disseminating accurate information which leads to educating and helping people make informed decisions. Dr. Saguiguit said that it is high time for agriculture and environmental issues to be highlighted by the media so that various stakeholders will be well-informed not just about the science of biotechnology, but also about experiences and trends on their use worldwide.
According to SEAMEO BIOTROP Deputy Director for Resources and Management Dr. Irdika Mansur, the right technology and package is necessary to achieve the targets of the Indonesian government for the country's agricultural development. "Biotechnology can be a tool to strengthen agricultural development in Indonesia,â€ he said. He reported that the country" National Biosafety Commission has approved 14 GM products and that in two to three years, Indonesia will enter the commercialization phase for biotech products.
In his closing message, ISAAA Global Coordinator and SEAsia Center Director Dr. Randy A. Hautea told the media practitioners that "the most important gene is the gene for perseverance." He said that in the very challenging task of communicating GM technology or biotech, it is the consistent perseverance and willingness to learn, communicate, engage, and build trust that eventually will allow people to communicate much more effectively.
The workshop covered the following topics: the role, status, impact, and benefits of biotechnology for food security and sustainable agriculture by Dr. Randy Hautea; the perspectives of the public and private sectors on current developments on biotech and biosafety by ABSPII Director Dr. Frank A. Shotkoski and Seed Regulatory Affairs DirectorDr. Tantono Subagyo, respectively; the basic concepts of biotech by Bogor Agricultural University professor Dr. Antonius Suwanto; and experience-sharing on successful biotech farming by Pangasinan, Philippines biotech corn farmer-leader Ms. Rosalie Ellasus. Also sharing their perspectives, insights, and experiences in biotech communication in the context of the media were Filipino academician and scientist Dr. Ruben L. Villareal and Filipino news writer and editor Mr. Paul Icamina.
Meanwhile, ISAAA Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology Director Dr. Mariechel J. Navarro talked about effective biotech communication and led a writeshop on biotech reporting.
The market prospects and opportunities of the upcoming biotech crop in the Philippines, the insect resistant Bt eggplant, were also presented by Ms. Agnes Chupungco of the College of Public Affairs-University of the Philippines Los BaÃ±os (UPLB). Ir. Adig Suwandi of PT Perkebunan Nusantara XI, a state-owned plantation company in Indonesia, presented on the status and opportunities of another biotech crop in the pipeline, the drought tolerant sugarcane.
For more details on the workshop or information on agricultural biotechnology in the Southeast Asian Region, visit SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center's website at www.bic.searca.org or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.