1061   Visual presentation

Science versus alternative "facts": Rolling the GMO debate

Author: Ivan Lukanda
Makerere University, Uganda

The debate on using genetically modified organisms/ food (GMO/Fs) to feed the growing world population has been taking a prime position in resonance to the mounting challenge of climate change. On the menu of concern are issues of a scientific, economic, political and social nature, amidst foreign influence energised by internet-dependent information sources. These issues may facilitate, derail or cause the complete rejection of GMOs in a country. Yet models linking these issues in a national and/or perhaps a global context are rare, an objective the current study attempts to achieve. Using content analysis of stories published in two Ugandan newspapers, a face-to-face survey with the public, and in-depth interviews with scientists, politicians, journalists and civil society, the study demonstrates how the different actors position themselves in rolling the debate on this contested science supported and opposed at the same time to create a ‘global controversy’. The issues from the content analysis and the face-to-face survey were analysed using statistical Stata and the issues from in-depth interviews were coded using Atlas.ti software. The synthesis of issues births an economic-media chain model to explain the multifaceted nature of GMO science. A graphic illustration of how this proposed model can help the public understand the debate on GMOs will presented.

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