Monday, October 3, 2011

Communicating Agribiotech in Muslim Countries

Welcome to the rebooting of the Malaysia4biotech blog!

Things have been pretty intense here in MABIC as we steady the Petri Dish ship. Our national holidays have given us some interesting challenges as we squeezed out the past few issues.

September was best remembered for a workhop we conducted in the island of Langkawi regarding communicating agribiotechnology in Muslim countries.

Langkawi because:

We could take advantage of some low peak rates.

We could provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city

Chocolates! (Among other things J

We could show off Malaysia’s inherent biodiversity to our guests.

This was a natural progression from our Ulama workshop held last year and gave us an opportunity to sit down with some of the top science communicators in the Muslim world to talk about their experiences, challenges and pleasant surprises.

We had delegates from (from West to East): Egypt, Uganda, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Conclusions were that:

· Islam supports the scientific innovations and human endeavours.

· Both scientists and Ulama have been supportive of the development and use of modern biotechnology for human welfare.

· Science communication is a crucial component of the process of technology acceptance and adoption.

The recommendations put forward through the workshop included:

· Foster the appreciation of science in journalists and train scientists to engage the media.

· Empower and engage farmers through farmer organizations.

· Produce simplified information on modern biotechnology in local languages through the relevant medium.

· Update and promote understanding of modern biotechnology among Islamic scholars.

· Identify and nurture media champions from the various stakeholders.

All in all, an amazing time of brainstorming, learning, fist wringing, and reflection on the importance of air-conditioning (especially how sweaty things get when it breaks down before a full day of workshop... grumble).

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