Interview with B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana:
Whether its’ the result of global warming or the vagaries of a complex climate, Uganda is facing a scorching reality that is killing crops and animals. Billions of shillings that could have been used in other projects is set aside for food aid to affected communities. Every leader, from the ruling president to the Farmers’ Federation President, is advising subsistence farmers to grow their most drought tolerant corn crops. But there are not easy solutions.
And that’s where genetic engineering enters the picture.
The organization Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) has developed drought tolerant varieties through conventional breeding. This drought tolerant maize however needs to be protected from pests and diseases which tend to attack more in harsh conditions, particularly the maize stalk borers. The stalk borers can cause up to 100% yield loss and expose the grain to fungal growth that results in aflatoxin contamination.
Journalists are key in creating awareness among farmers to adopt the new technology. However, conventional journalistic reporting requires them to “balance news”–and much of what is being said about he new technology comes from anti-GMO activists spreading misinformation about their alleged dangers.
How can journalists balance news without appearing to be reporting misleading “alternative facts” that have no evidence. I interviewed Christopher Bendana, one of the leading science reporters in Uganda, about this challenge.