The Indonesian Biotechnology Information Center (IndoBIC), together with SEAMEO BIOTROP, conducted two workshops on communicating food science and agricultural biotechnology in Indonesia on 15 and 16 May 2013, respectively in Jakarta.
The first workshop on communicating food science was directed to media people and was attended by 41 print and online journalists. Experts from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) served as speakers. Ms. Kimberly Reed, Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin, Dr. Timothy Sellnow, and Mr. Andrew Benson from IFIC discussed the challenges in communicating food science through media, ways to address the interests and concerns of the public on food safety, and appropriate communication tools to respond to these concerns. On the other hand, Prof. Dr.Dedy Fardiaz and Dr. Dahrul Syah from IPB shared information about key misconceptions on food science in Indonesia and how to interpret scientific studies and food safety evaluation, respectively. Press interviews with the speakers and Dr. Bambang Purwantara, BIOTROP and IndoBIC Director, followed after the workshop.
The second workshop on communicating agricultural biotechnology was designed for researchers, government officials, and industry people, of which 50 were in attendance. Dr. Agus Pakpahan, Chair of Indonesia Biosafety Commission, officially opened the workshop. In his remarks, he emphasized the importance of communicating the proper ways of adopting biotechnology and its products especially among farmers and other relevant groups such as entrepreneurs and the consuming public.
The same set of experts from IFIC was joined by other Indonesian experts, namely Dr. M. Herman from ICABIOGRAD, Ir. Tetty Sihombing from Indonesia Food and Drug Agency, and Ms. Ine Yordenaya from detik.com to enlighten the participants on the subject matters of the workshop. Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin and Dr. M. Herman discussed the Current Statuses of Agricultural Biotechnology in the World and in Indonesia, respectively. Ir. Tetty Sihombing shared ways on how to develop and measure public understanding about biotechnology while Kimberly Reed and Mr Andy Benson explained about IFIC’s Communicators’ Guide for Public Understanding. Dr. Timothy Sellnow elaborated on the principles and best practices in food risk communication. On the other hand, ways to optimize website and other online media in disseminating biotechnology information were tackled by Kimberly Reed and Ine Yordenaya. Two panel discussions with the experts were also held to enable the participants to share their perspectives on the following issues, namely: “What are the key misconceptions and barriers confronting wider acceptance of biotechnology in Indonesia?” and “How do we optimize agricultural biotechnology communications in Indonesia?”
In closing the workshop, Dr. Bambang Purwantara emphasized the willingness and commitment of BIOTROP and IndoBIC to lead efforts in providing relevant and truthful information on biotechnology to the general public towards attaining food security and safety in Indonesia.
The two workshops were organized by IndoBIC and SEAMEO BIOTROP in collaboration with IFIC and with support from the International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA). (DS/JF)