By Onche Odeh
Mr. Femi Adesina, Senior Special Adviser to immediate former Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari would have been seen as an unlikely choice of person to speak on issues of science, especially as it relates to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
The former President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, however, took the stage with ease, as he used the occasion of the 7th edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Nigeria chapter’s Media Award to remind journalists about their role in the propagation of sciences and most especially when reporting about GMOs.
Speaking to his keynote, titled; Media Objectivity and the Sanctity of Truth: The Case of GMOs, Adesina said, “When it comes to reporting GMOs, the journalist’s opinion does not matter. The journalist simply must report the facts. It does not matter whether the people like it or not.”
Linking this to the rules of ethical journalism, he said, “As with objective reporting, the facts as reported must be specific, verifiable, concrete and not vague,” adding, “When you are in doubt about the facts before you, leave out.”
He rounded up with a reminder to the journalists that every of their report on GMOs must be guided by the Four Cs of reporting, saying “As a journalist reporting on GMOs, every of your report must be Clear, in proper Context, Coherent and Complete.”
The 7th edition of the OFAB Media Award was held on Thursday November 11, at John Woods Hotel, Abuja. It was another opportunity for the forum to honour journalists for their contribution to biotechnology awareness and adoption in the country.
OFAB Media Award was designed to honour journalists who play a critical role in educating and strengthening public awareness of the importance of biotechnology in boosting food security.
Director General/CEO, the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, in his welcome remarks, described the theme of the event, ‘Building a sustainable legacy for media practitioners’ as aptly chosen.
While commending the media for the active role they have played in the promotion of biotechnology in Nigeria, he said, “The media serves as the bridge that connects the advancements and breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology to the broader public. Your work in translating complex scientific concepts into understandable narratives is invaluable. You inform, educate, and empower citizens to make informed decisions about the role of biotechnology in our lives.”
According to him, the media has helped immensely in “fostering dialogue, promoting innovation, and advancing policies that support sustainable agriculture and food security.”
On her part, Director, Department of Agriculture Biotechnology at NABDA and Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria, Dr. Rose Gidado, said, “The OFAB Media Award which is in its 7th edition, is a celebration of the remarkable efforts made by journalists and media professionals in informing, educating, and raising awareness about agricultural biotechnology. This field holds immense promise for addressing some of the most pressing global challenges, such as food security, climate change, and sustainable agriculture. It is through the media storytelling that we are able to bridge the gap between the science of biotechnology and the broader public, helping them make informed decisions and understand the potential benefits it holds for our society.”
On the day, Sarah Achimugu of Channels won the 1st position in Television category, while Achanya Favour Ada of AGTV came second.
Others are Blessing Ituma and Chinasa Ossai of FRCN, while Ibrahim Isah of BBC won DG’s prize.