Misinformation hinders farmers from accepting latest technologies: Sonny Tababa

Muhammad Arshad


Access to technology relies on the acceptance of it. Biotechnology has so much misunderstandings roaming around the globe even after 20 years of adoption. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the technology and the process which is not letting people to really accept it. This is where all the stakeholders especially scientists have a role to play, in terms of explaining and placing their voices out there about the product and technology.
While talking to Pakistan Observer exclusively, Director of Biotechnology Affairs, CropLife Asia Sonny Tababa said that we all have this responsibility to correct the wrong information floating whenever we get the opportunity and only in this way we can improve in this area.
She believes that all farmers of region should have full access of new technologies coming in the market as early as possible whether the technology comes from the public sector or the private sector. She said there always have been so many hurdles in making the technology available for farmers from both the sectors.
She told that they at CropLife Asia work in the areas of Plant Biotechnology and Food Security, whereas, for their industry associations they would like to see pathways where the farmers can have access to the latest technologies as early as possible so that they can reap the benefits.
She said that ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications) is one of the organizations that is working for this purpose and publishes a brief every year on the Global status of the commercialization of Biotech crops, and it has been documented very well over the years about how the biotech technologies have been adapted globally and what is their impact in terms of economical benefits, biodiversity benefits, environmental benefits and in terms of income generation.
She said that there is a need to maintain a database like this on country level to actually supervise the GM events and activities, to validate the strategies and policies and to have an idea about the adoption rate and all stakeholders should have access to this information.
Particularly talking about the GM crops she said that these crops are regulated, they have bio-safety regulations in place for them but the area that needs improvement is where we need to review and maintain a database of these Biotech crops in field and market.
She said a lot of research is being done in Pakistan so many projects are going on and she feels that the goal of Pakistani researchers is same as their goal and that is to see that the product of their research gets to the hands of the farmers in time.
So, with a proper data package a lot of information can be made available for the farmers about the new products. She also mentioned that data transportability is very important as there is no need of repeating the same regulatory experiments again and again.
Scientists have high credibility to the general public so you cannot let the regulators to talk about these crops. Not only the scientists but the other researchers who have the influence of this field, the communication units of organizations need to work together and help each other in delivering better and positive information.
Moreover, she added that over the years she has noticed that for the acceptance of any technology and product a strong political will is very important. She said that once after the debate safety is established then the policy makers and political leaders have the responsibility to make the policy and enforce that to ensure that the farmers will be able to use the technology for their benefit.
She mentioned that social media is an effective tool these days to disseminate information as everybody is a smart phone users and they all have the access to different social media platforms so lot of things can be conveyed through this medium.
She said that in Pakistan there are lot of scientific organizations, Government entities, educational institutes, farmer associations working in the field of biotechnology and they are very passionate towards their drive to make new products and commercialize them but there is a lack of one single platform where they can all sit, discuss and solve the issues that all the stakeholders are facing in the way of making the system smooth.
A platform where everybody can be heard and an emotional connection can be established. She emphasized on building a high trust level between all stakeholders and policy makers in Pakistan only then the system can get smoother and convenient for everybody.

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