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Discussion Group 2

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Theme 2: Format and language [#3292]
Dear Forum Participant,

Welcome to Theme 2 on "Format and language".

We welcome you to answer the guiding questions listed below.

1. In what format is biosafety information principally made available; electronically (e.g. soft copies via e-mail, CD-ROM or flash disks) or in hard copies?

2. Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?

3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format? If so, please provide examples.

Best regards,

Ulrika Nilsson
(edited on 2012-05-24 22:01 UTC by Ulrika Nilsson)
posted on 2012-05-24 17:33 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3527]
2. Format and language
need to be user friendly, understandable for public. Several possibilities may  be distinguished/used according to circumstances. Format and language can be used:
- in which request was ontained,
- in which it is requested by applicant,
- if technically difficult or too costly for information provider, information can be provided in its original format and language, i.e. in which it was originally created.
In case of published information, if in electronic way, the format is required for use, which specification is freely accessible.
Milena Roudna
posted on 2012-06-11 15:26 UTC by Ph.D. Milena Roudna, Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3543]
According to the Specification of the procedure for the provision of information on the environment in the Republic of Lithuania to the public approved by Government Resolution No 1175 of 22 October 1999 (Official Gazette Valstybes Žinios, 1999, No 90-2660; 2005, No 26-831, 2010, No 19-864), institutions must make all necessary efforts to make the environmental information easily accessible to the public through public telecommunications (Internet networks, electronic databases) or ensure that the information is stored in a form or format facilitating immediate information recovery or receipt by means of computer telecommunications or other electronic means.
A lot of environmental information is available on the websites of the Ministry of the Environment and subordinate bodies. Available environmental information is also presented in written, electronic or another form or provided on request by other state and municipal institutions. A thematic index helps to find information on the website of the Ministry of the Environment.The provided information must be structured and regularly updated in view of the frequency of exchange.
The Ministry of Environment organises the compilation and storage of information on use of genetically modified organisms and their products in the Republic of Lithuania and making such information available to the public through the Database of Genetically Modified Organisms (http://gmo.am.lt) in lithuanian language, and this is done without violating any information confidentiality or intellectual property rights. Some national biosafety information is available in english through BCH.

Respectfully,
Gintare Blazauskiene (NFP)
GMO Division
Nature Protection Department
The Ministry of Environment of Lithuania
posted on 2012-06-12 07:30 UTC by Mrs. Gintarė Blažauskienė, Ministry of Environment
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3551]
1. Both of them. In our countries, there is a lot of difficult regions (mountain, desert and steppes) with a low level of communication.
2. I think that the problem of language must taking into account by the competent authorities if in the country there is several languages as in Algerian (Arabic and all dialects of berberian)
3. It depends of the public. For large information it could be summarised or simplified, but for the participation of involved actors, it is better to give all information
posted on 2012-06-12 14:36 UTC by Pr. Meriem Louanchi, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3554]
This is an important topic and a key element in developing communication and public awareness programme. Thank you for bringing this up.

1. Malaysia is fortunate to have a large population with access to internet and computers, thus, making softcopies, emails, and CD-ROM an effective approach to reach to the public. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Malaysia has made CDs, posters, and other printed materials for the public. This was done in collaboration with MABIC. However, the same cannot be said for other countries where the use of internet is scarce. A suitable media need to be identified and this can only be done after understanding public attitude and behaviour.

2. Regarding the choice of language - it is important that information are made available in a language that is commonly used among the audience and understood well. Otherwise, it would be a futile exercise. It need not be the official national language. In many countries, local dialects are more common than the national language.

3. Governments should provide information that are useful to the public. The best practice in any communication is: "provide what public wants to know" and NOT "what the communicators think public should know". This would mean understanding public concerns. There are mixed findings on the correlation between level of biotech/biosafety understanding and level of acceptance/rejection. What is important is the public trust on government agencies and regulatory bodies. Having said this, it is important that the information is in a format/language that is simple and understood by the general public.

Based on my experience, these initiatives to bring biosafety information to the public should not cost huge budget. These are some simple suggestions:

i) All grants given to GMO work should have a small allocation  for public awareness activities and the scientists involved should engage the public. This would create "civic scientists"
ii) Existing biotechnology mechanisms in a country could be used to disseminate biosafety information as long as they are science and evidence based
iii) Talks at schools, civil societies, universities can be done at a meagre cost.
iv) Scientists going to the media - TV/radio/newspapers on a voluntary basis on educational/talk shows. This could be done without any cost.

Countries often get into extravagant communication/awareness programme with no idea of the impact of the approach. This leads to Parties requesting for financial support for public awareness most of time and lack of financial support is often used as an excuse for not reaching to the public. This could be avoided if we understand the public and the various approaches/media to reach to them.

Thank you.
Mahaletchumy Arujanan
Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC)/Public Research & Regulation Initiative (PRRI)
(edited on 2012-06-13 03:33 UTC by Mahaletchumy Arujanan)
posted on 2012-06-13 03:24 UTC by Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan, Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3556]
1. Information on the biosafety in the African countries like the Benin, must be on several supports: electronics (e-mail, CD-Rom, flash disks) and in copies hardware because all the actors do not have the same accesses.  There are cities and villages without electricity and Internet. 

2. Yes it is possible to make available information on the biosafety in other languages that the official language.  Our country insisted on the translation of information on the biosafety in the national languages.  In this same impetus, it is envisaged the introduction of the national languages into primary education teaching. 

3. Information on the biosafety to touch a larger number of public must be put under one formed simplified, and in very comprehensible format.  When I organized the national workshop of the peasant organizations on theGMO, and the legal framework of the biosafety in Benin and in West Africa Economic and Monetary Union, the communications were presented by the eminent professors of university.  Those were informed to make communications accessible to the participants taking into account their disparate levels.  What was made and after each presentation, the questions of the participants show that the message is understood. 

KAKPO Comlan Marcel
Benin NFP of PCB and BBCH
posted on 2012-06-13 08:57 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3585]
Bethia Daniel, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia

1. In what format is biosafety information principally made available; electronically (e.g. soft copies via e-mail, CD-ROM or flash disks) or in hard copies?

In Saint Lucia, we utilize both means, electronically (soft copy) and printed copies (hard copy).

2.Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?

Saint Lucia is a bilingual state and we speak both English and Patois (French Creole). However, English is the official language taught in schools. The Patois tends to be a more oral language and many persons who speak Patois are unable to read it (Patois is only now being transformed into a written language). In addition, most persons who speak Patois also understand and read English and so, I do not think that there is a need to have our biosafety information disseminated using written Patois. However, the oral dissemination of biosafety information using Patois may be very effective for the Saint Lucian public.

If it is possible to actually be more effective at reaching persons using the other languages, then I believe that it should be done. But this would have to be every country’s individual decision.

3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format? If so, please provide examples.

Perhaps you can have different formats for different audiences. For the less technical people, perhaps a simple, comprehensible, use-friendly format should be adopted. But for the academicians and other technical personnel who would require all the more elaborate explanations and scientific terms, then a more methodological format can be utilized. In this way, the public would have the choice of which version of the same information they would like to read.
posted on 2012-06-15 15:21 UTC by Ms. Bethia Daniel, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy and Science and Technology
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3590]
In our contents, we use a comprehensive language mainly in the technical concepts on biotech and biosafety trying to cover all the key messages, and emphasize the different elements of the case for different audiences in a variety of formats (soft copies via e-mail, facebook, twitter, CD-ROM, and hard copies such as outreach materials about the Commission and national regulation). Nowadays, the majority of documents are available in Spanish; however, just some of them are in English.
posted on 2012-06-15 19:17 UTC by Sra. Rosa Inés González, Mexico
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3597]
1. In what format is biosafety information principally made available; electronically (e.g. soft copies via e-mail, CD-ROM or flash disks) or in hard copies?
        I think that biosafety information can be made available in any format. It depends on target group, place of public residence (city or village, etc.) and accession to computer.   
        In Belarus biosafety information is mostly made available in hard copies and at the websites of the National Coordination Biosafety Centre (hereinafter - NCBC) and of the Ministry of Trade.

2. Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?
        Yes, it is feasible in Belarus. The language can be changed from Russian/Belarusian into English at the most websites of the ministries of Belarus. The NCBC website has a function of language change from Russian/Belarusian into English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Arabic. 
3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format? If so, please provide examples.
       In Belarus it is a rule to publish the summary of the seminars and outcomes of press-conferences or other events on biosafety issues in newspapers, usually, as press-releases or communiqués.  
        The biosafety information should be provided to the public in a summarized as well as a comprehensible format. We think that a good idea is to publish small booklets and information leaflets for consumers where information on scientific principles of LMO development and short description of the law “On Safety in Genetic Engineering Activities” and some other lawful biosafety regulations is provided. Those editions shall be available at the grocery stores and markets. We will include this activity in our strategic plan.

Belarus, BCH NFP Elena Makeyeva
posted on 2012-06-16 13:20 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3607]
2. Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?

Yes, it is feasible in case where the national languages are the only spoken languages (other than the official languages) in the countries.  But realistically this will involve identifying all spoken languages per country then translating the information in all the national languages  and dialects. (There a countries with hundreds of spoken and written languages).


3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format? If so, please provide examples.

  - Governments should be required to provide biosafety information in different formats as long as the information reaches all the public.  By doing so, the information is guaranteed to reach various audiences including illiterates, most of whom are women.  According to the UN Women "CSW56 – Facts and Figures on Rural Women", "Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people".  A simplified version with illustrations targeting that specific group could be well received and empowering.
(edited on 2012-06-16 22:01 UTC by Marie-Claire Angwa)
posted on 2012-06-16 21:55 UTC by Ms. Marie-Claire Angwa, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3609]
Iran Ministry of Science, research and Technology which has the responsibility of BCH, make available biosafety information in different formats such as via email, publications and through national website. 
Performing biosafeyty workshops are also a good opportunity to train public by presentations, discussion panels, and interview with biosafety experts and broadcasting them in TV and Radio.
Most of these information are in Farsi (national language) and some of them are in English.
Government should be required to make a series of easy to understand TV and Radio programs about biotechnology and biosafety. Biosafety experts should publish simple articles on biosafety in newspapers and biosafety course should be added to primary and high school courses. 
Kind Regards
Nasrin Esmaeilzadeh,
BCH NFP
posted on 2012-06-17 06:23 UTC by Ms. Nasrin Sadat Esmailzadeh, Ministry of Science, Research and Technology
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3610]
3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format?

A summary of biosafety information can be useful for some parts of the public, but only as _additional_ service.
It can not replace the full, original information.
A standardized format can ensure that all relevant information is given, making data comparable at the same time. Such a format should also indicate where the more detained data can be found in the original biosafety information.
posted on 2012-06-17 11:44 UTC by Ms. Antje Lorch, Ecoropa
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3614]
Both electronically and hard copies formats of biosafety information should be made available to public.
It is quite difficult to make or translate  information available in languages other than the national language. However there is a lot of research information available in English.
posted on 2012-06-18 03:31 UTC by Ms. Praopan Tongsom, Thailand
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3616]
Welcome to Theme 2 on "Format and language".


1. In what format is biosafety information principally made available; electronically (e.g. soft copies via e-mail, CD-ROM or flash disks) or in hard copies?
We have different categories of biosafety information that are made available to all stakeholders. One, those that you can find in the BCH Pilipinas, i.e. laws and regulations, contact details of CNA’s, Risk Assessment, country decisions on Food, feed and for processing, experts, current news, announcements. One can also find information about the contained use experiments undertaken in the Philippines since 1991 up to present in the DOST Biosafety website, while decisions for field release from 1999 to 2002 can be accessed in the NCBP website. Information about GMO regulations, rules and procedures that one has to comply with  when applying for permits to undertake experiments under contained use, field test, propagation and importation for direct use and delisting of GMOs are made available thru the websites of the Competent National Authorities.
Based on our regulations, the applicant, when applying for permit under Administrative Order No. 8, has to provide the Project Information Sheet (PIS) in the following versions: English and Tagalog and or in the dialect where the test will be undertaken.
Project information sheets (PIS) of applications for field testing and propagation, once approved by the Bureau of Plant Industry, are publicized in leading newspapers and or posted for three consecutive weeks in the community where the activities will be held, both in English and dialect of the area, while applications for  direct use is circulated by means of newspapers of general circulation. The PIS, which is a summary of the activities that will be undertaken in a given area, is made public to invite the public to comment on the proposed activities.
Hard copies of the documents can likewise be requested in subject to the existing rules and regulations governing public disclosure of information. The fastest way of providing information is via email.

2. Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?
English language is used in our official business transactions. For  information on biosafety and modern biotechnology, we use the English language and/or our official national language and/or dialects in providing information on biosafety/biotechnology. During fora and information and public awareness meetings, english, our native language or native dialects is used.
posted on 2012-06-18 06:38 UTC by Ms. Julieta Fe L. Estacio, Philippines
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3617]
1. In what format is biosafety information principally made available; electronically (e.g. soft copies via e-mail, CD-ROM or flash disks) or in hard copies?

Any format should be available, most preferable via e-mail or website.

2. Is it feasible to make information available in languages other than the official national language(s)?

In my country the information may be disseminated also in Russian language as the language of broad communication.

3. Should governments be required to provide biosafety information to the public in a summarised or simplified/comprehensible format? If so, please provide examples.

Yes, the information disseminated by government to the public should be summarised and simplified, understandable for large public.
posted on 2012-06-18 09:12 UTC by Angela Lozan
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3627]
Posted on behalf of Mr. Bather Kone, Mali:

1- We use the AU Website, PDF Copies, hard copies;
2- It is feasable even I would say mandatory if we really want the public to be part of the system, of cost it is costy;
3- Government should find the way to provide information at least in the most spoken national language of the country
In the case of the AU there four official languages, depending on specific circumstancies the most used is english.
posted on 2012-06-18 15:41 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3632]
Posted on behalf of Miss Motlalepula Pholo, Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana:

The format and the language must tally with the target group. For instance there are ordinary citizens that need to be informed using the right media that will yield results. It is therefore of great importance to identify the media that has a great impact in that society, such as physical or visual drama demonstrations. The presentations has to be in native language to draw up keen interest in the subject matter. In explaining issues, pictures in brochures and particulary banners play an important role.The message must be very focused and avoid too much text. In a nutshell, the message should be summarised in Botswana native language in order to address rural communities through their communication media such as gatherings. Fortunately the re is a platform that is currently raising awareness (implemeting article 23) to enhance public inolvement and participation towards decision making.
posted on 2012-06-18 19:05 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3633]
Dear All,

I present my considerations regarding the formats and languages that may best contribute to release biosafety information and make it available to the diversity of information applicants and users.

1)We release biosafety information documents in the National BCH websites every time they are finished and ready to be published.  Except the project reports, all these documents are in Spanish only, which is our unique national language.  With support from projects regarding Cartagena Protocol, we also produce CD-ROM versions and printed documents, some of which have been prepared in a simplified version so that a broader range and number of actors may be reached.  However, we have the big challenge that most of our population belongs to more than 20 different ethnic groups where almost each one has its own language and generally live in rural areas without internet access and therefore this kind of information does not reach them.

2)We had the experience of learnt lessons through BCH-II project, for example, that the translation of documents into most-used languages of different local cultures demands big or specific projects that may assign financial resources to these versions, considering that these processes require time and enough funds.

3)While pursuing processes for the development and adoption of a legal framework on GMOs, government institutions related to biosafety matter have generally limited resources to use for the specific enforcement of summarizing or simplifying information to the public.  At the same time, their roles demand them to aim their capacities to a mostly-oriented regulatory performance, which they cannot delegate to any stakeholder.

Consequently, these institutions should identify and establish the necessary agreements with key media entities, on the basis of their interest and performance over past years, in order to reach the target audiences and their needs and participation on the decision-making processes.  One incipient example is the development of a first group of students of a Diploma on Environmental and Biodiversity-related Journalism, which gave us new insights about the interests and potential that may be used to deepen their understanding of these topics and strengthening capacities in articles and publications that will be written and published in newspapers, periodical sections, etc.  It should be noted that this experience was more focused toward biodiversity and in a complementary manner to biosafety and therefore is expected to give evidence of its effects in the near future.  What is true is that the positioning of biosafety topic under the attention of several media organizations and potentially into their work agenda is a first necessary step to interest probing and enhancing their previous knowledge and capacities to enable advancement through contributions  in the fields of awareness, education and participation.

Under our current country conditions, the number and frequency of biosafety information requests arising from different users or interested entities is mainly oriented to basic information questions and come rarely from specific actors that know much more about biotechnology and GMOs.

Best Regards,

Estuardo Solórzano
Guatemala BCH-NFP
National Council of Protected Areas
posted on 2012-06-18 19:09 UTC by Leslie Melisa Ojeda Cabrera
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3637]
Posted on behalf of Ms. Mahlet Teshome Kebebe, African Union:

National languages should be utilized as the primary form of communication. Technical words should be broken down to layman terms ensuring that the accurate biosafety information is not somehow missed in the process.
posted on 2012-06-19 13:38 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 2: Format and language [#3641]
Posted on behalf of Mr. Efrem Okbaghiorghis, Eritrea:

I would like to thank you to prepare this topic which is a basic issue that should be addressed clearly.

1. Since our internet could not cover all parts of the country mostly we use Brochures, Posters, Newspapers and other printed materials for the public approach. But it is better to use the internet connections for more effectiveness.

2. Concerning the choice of language: we could say information should be accessible in such a way that the local community could understand clearly. It is clear first we should address in international languages then we translate into the local languages to address the information well understood.

3. Public participation is a very important issue. So we should start from public ideas and views. Considering this, we should provide a basic information targeting the public in a simple way and summarized. We should consider the rejection and acceptance of the information addressed. It isn’t essential to impose public views by our ideas, information providers.

We shouldn’t worry in bringing all information that may cost more funds. We could use simple printing materials, newspapers,TV,Radio, magazines, brochures posters etc step by step we could use electronical messages for those who couldn’t access internet connection.

Thank you very much!!

Efrem
Eritrea
posted on 2012-06-19 14:04 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety