For the last few months we have been setting up a team of volunteers to front the pro-GMO campaign efforts in Kenya. This is after the presidential removal of restrictions on biotechnology received lots of resistance and negative coverage in the media, which made it important to find ways of countering negative publicity by using bare facts, hence the birth of the “GMO FACTS not FEAR” campaign.
Pro-GMO leaders drawn from the Kenya coastal region discussing how to increase content visibility and tackle mis-information on most social media platforms used in the country. Photo credit: Kataru Concepts
Started by Kataru Concepts which publishes agricultural and health content, the campaign is taking shape with representatives drawn from across the nation meeting in several WhatsApp groups to discuss, deliberate and debunk anti-GMO myths flying everywhere in their communities.
The growing acceptance and usage of WhatsApp as the platform of preference by most Kenyans has helped a lot in the growth of the campaign. Advocacy has become friendlier and convenient as most Kenyans acquire cheaper smartphones whose standard capacity is pegged at the ability to run WhatsApp. In our future plans deliberated upon after a meeting held on Saturday 23rd August, the following approaches were commenced to help improve the campaign;
- We are recruiting and training WhatsApp group admins across the country to equip them with knowledge on biotechnology and skills to moderate debate in their groups. This will ensure most admins are sufficiently equipped to moderate group chats on biotechnology with ease.
- We are in the process of using our members to increase the sharing of good content on other social media platforms including X (formerly twitter), Facebook, Instagram etc. By doing this we have increased the availability and accessibility of pro-GMO content.
The Kenyan Pro-GMO coast region team after a session held at Ganja la Simba, Kwale County on Saturday 23 August 2023 Photo credit: Kataru Concepts
- We intend to increase sessions with researchers, government agencies, and development partners in biotechnology drawn from the private sector and chart ways of collaborating to improve the nation’s perception of biotechnology and increase acceptability of GMO products.
- We have formed a common front via which to access and share resources on biotechnology and improve our overall knowledge, general understanding, and ability to handle the “anti-campaigners” at any given time. In this approach, we’ll share content from leading GMO researchers, publishers, and other players in the industry.
In any semi-literate society, ignorance tends to be more powerful and can only be countered by deep knowledge and ability to communicate effectively by “chewing down ‘FACTS’ to a level that can be ingested by the wearisome consumer”. This is our primary objective in the “GMO FACTS not FEAR” campaign.
We are reaching out to the community via face to face sessions, online training, and the use of FM radio stations that transmit in local languages. By so doing, we help our communities allay fears, get to know which crops and products are nearing release to farmers for propagation, where to find GMO seed as soon as it’s available, and what crops are still under research and yet to be approved for propagation.