Minister warns journalists to avoid fake news

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has called on journalists to practice objective journalism in order to be distinguished significantly from fake news bloggers.

The Minister, who was represented by the Head of Department of Bioresources Technology in Ministry, Agoro Olayiwola, made this call, on Friday, at the fourth Edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Media Awards and Gala Nite.

He said: “Avoid fake news; focus on factual news that promotes the development of technology in agriculture as we strategise on how to feed our teeming population in this COVID-19 pandemic era.”

The Coordinator of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Nigeria, Dr. Rose Maxwell Gidado, commended the awardees and other journalists for working relentlessly to rectify misleading information reported about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), also adding that that the coronavirus pandemic did not halt the initiatives and activities of OFAB from being executed nor hindered.

“In our quest to promote accurate science reporting, we hosted media managers and editors from across Nigeria to training sessions on science communication and journalism. I am glad to say that this has impacted greatly in countering disinformation about Genetic Modified Organisms (GMOs) and anti-GMO campaigns in the mainstream media in Nigeria. We are confident that the impact of our advocacy and campaign will arm the public and policymakers with credible evidence-based scientific information and consequently enhance public acceptance of GMOs and foster the deployment of agricultural biotechnology in Nigeria,” she said.

OFAB, which was established in 2009, was launched to enhance an exchange of information and creation of awareness on agricultural biotechnology intended to birth a comprehension of biotechnology in agricultural productivity.

Also speaking at the event, Prof. Alex, who was represented by the Director of Agricultural Biotechnology Department in NABDA, Dr. Nasiru Ibrahim, pointed out the media as a significant factor that determines the result of a country in the international world. In his words, “My dear Gentlemen of the Press, your profession has placed a very significant responsibility on all of you, the success or failure of any endeavor in this country is dependent on the role played by the media. The media has what it takes to mobilize the public to either accept or reject a cause of action.”

The various awards, which were presented to the winners of each category in Television with Nkoli Lovely as the first runnerup from AIT; in Print with Chibuzor Kelechi from Daily Trust as second runnerup and Radio with Ezekiel Chioma as third runner up had Pretty Ngozi Onyejiaku from African Independent Television (AIT) as the overall winner.

The Regional Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr. Abdourhamane Issoufou Kollo, who spoke briefly at the event, appreciated the efforts and impacts of the OFAB Coordinator in Nigeria and the entire staff and Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Alex Akpa, for creating a favourable environment for OFAB to thrive in Nigeria.

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