For six years, Ugandan policymakers and journalists have expressed
frustrations about the difficulty in appreciating scientific terminologies
and messages presented about biotechnology. On many occasions,
non-scientists have volunteered to simplify the science with limited
success. For this reason, Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC)
brought together science and media practitioners to develop the first ever
'dictionary' that provides simple language translations of some of the
terminologies used in biotechnology and biosciences. UBIC further intends to
have this 'dictionary' translated from English into key languages spoken in
Uganda and the region such as Kiswahili, Luganda, Runyakitara, Luo, Acholi,
"Science communications is challenging owing to the fact that most
scientific technologies originate in the western world and thus African
languages often do not have accurate translations of scientific terms,"
noted Dr. Anton Bua, a senior scientist at the National Crops Resources
Research Institute (NaCRRI).
"The goal is to simplify how we communicate science and make sure that no
matter the language spoken, the audience received a similar message," said
Dr. Barbara Zawedde-the UBIC Coordinator during a recent launch of this
initiative at one of NARO's Zonal Agricultural Research and Development
Institute in Uganda. Participants took part in identifying and simplifying
some of the most commonly used terminologies by Ugandan scientists, and
developing simplified messages for common socio-economic and ethical
concerns associated with biotech crops.
Ambiguities in languages/semantics often distort the science messages making
this effort extremely pertinent in an era of increasing and deliberate
misinformation. Once finalized, the 'dictionary' will be widely disseminated
to biotech communicators and champions to facilitate informed dialogue on
modern agricultural biosciences and biotechnology.