Hype buster

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2005

Consumer Journalism Africa

The Kalam Awards, which celebrate excellence in African consumer journalism, were announced in the first week of January. The first and second prizes went to Brenda Zulu from Zambia and Gatonye Gathura from Kenya respectively, for their articles on tele-health and failed experiments on genetically-modified (gm) organisms in Africa. Gathura's article, ' gm technology fails local potatoes' -- published in the Kenyan newspaper, National Daily -- focused on the Monsanto-World Bank- usaid gm sweet potato trials in Kenya. The trials, he wrote, were spectacular failures and also ruined local crops. The article spawned similar pieces in the New Scientist and several other journals.

The revelations were significant because in the past, the gm sweet potato project has been vociferously promoted. It has been used to showcase gm crops as the saviour of Africa.

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