Alliance for Science and SciDev.Net host online debate in Seoul

July 1, 2015

The Alliance for Science shared its mission and presence with an international audience June 8-12 at the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Seoul, Korea.

Highlights included hosting a June 9 on-line debate in partnership with SciDev.Net on why farmers aren t using agricultural technology. The topic attracted attention even before the rousing two-hour debate, generating some 493 comments from participants spanning the globe, with folks still weighing in.

Journalist Joan Conrow, who moderated the debate, wrote about the discussion and the issues it raised in a post on her website. Questions were also cross-posted on Twitter at #Tech4Ag.

Joan went on to represent the Alliance in a June 10 panel discussion at the WCSJ, The Role of Journalists in Promoting Tech Choice for Farmers, which was also co-sponsored with SciDev.Net. She spoke about the misinformation campaigns and attempts to silence debate that can accompany coverage of controversial agricultural technology.

Other panelists included Julien Chongwang, assistant editor of SciDev.Net s Sub-Saharan Africa (French) edition, who said reporters in French-speaking Africa devote little coverage to agricultural news, leaving farmers poorly informed.

Luisa Massarani, the Brazil-based coordinator of SciDev.Net s Latin America and Caribbean edition, shared research she d helped conduct on the perception of small-holder farmers in adopting technology. Their primary concern was whether it would increase revenues, as well as health and environmental risks.

The discussion prompted numerous questions from the audience, and a follow-up podcast by SciDev.Net. Alliance staff member Becca Harrison live-tweeted the event.

The presence of science journalists from around the world also provided the Alliance with an ideal opportunity to announce its new journalism fellowship. Reporters from Africa, Asia and the United States expressed great interest in the opportunity to collaborate on articles related to food security, crop production, biotechnology and sustainable agricultural practices.