Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 223

Full Length Research Paper

The media and genetically modified organisms (GMOs): ‘Talking past each other’ in science debate in public: the case of Zambia

Pascal Newbourne Mwale
Chancellor College University of Malawi, P. O. Box: 280, Chirunga Road, Zomba Malawi.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 30 August 2011
  •  Published: 30 November 2011



This paper outlines features and dynamics of the debate around genetically modified (GM) maize in the print news media from the late 1990s to early 2000s in Zambia, one of the six hunger-stricken Southern African countries in the 2001/2002 farming season. The paper tracks down how, at least three key issues seen to be development issues, namely: food security, foreign aid and GM seed were debated in the media. The paper argues that the participants in the media debate implicating GMOs talked past each other with multiple effects for science communication and democracy. The question suggested by this analysis is: what kind of journalistic production are theorists and practitioners of journalism and media envisioning in terms of science communication as an emerging form of development communication in the post-repressive, postcolonial democracies of the Southern African region? The study has two main limitations; first, it does not look at the debate as broadcast media handled it during the same period; second, it does not consider the reception of the issues raised in the debate in the media by stakeholders other than those specifically mentioned in the articles.


Key words: Genetically modified organisms, maize, food security, Zambia.