Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia (REU)

GMO Risk Communication, public awareness and public participation

Regional training course

Tbilisi, Georgia, 1-4 February 2011

The Regional training course in GMO Risk Communication, public awareness and public participation in the frame of the project TCP/RER/3207D "Capacity-building in agricultural biotechnologies and biosafety" for Armenia, Georgia and Republic of Moldova was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, 1-4 February 2011.
Fifteen representatives from the three participating countries with backgrounds in: agricultural biotechnologies (scientists from research and academia, ministry officials); extension; and, public relations and journalism (ministry press-service) were trained in overall principles in Risk analysis: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication and best practices in communication tailored to diverse audiences. The final goal of the training was to train trainers, able to use and spread different communication approaches for biosafety related issues, taking in consideration local societal specificities.
Specifically, trainees deepened their knowledge in the international treaties dealing with GMO risk communication, public awareness and participation in the decision-making and, treaties’ application and compliance through case studies.
The participants developed practical experience in communicating biosafety issues with different stakeholder groups: scientists, policy-makers, farmers and media, and increased their capacities to design a public awareness campaign and hold public hearings on biosafety before a product of the modern agricultural biotechnologies was released into environment. Special attention was paid to methods and communication for development strategies for communicating issues of biotechnologies and biosafety with rural communities and different media. The trainees learnt also to implement public participation procedures; write a press release and to interview and be interviewed.
Further, the newly acquired knowledge and skills would be used in the forthcoming training activities on national level both in the frame of this technical cooperation programme and in real time situations.

Meeting documents




List of participants

(all presentations are by Ms Nevena Alexandrova, Agricultural research and biotechnology officer, FAO REU)


Biotechnology, Biosecurity and Biosafety – global perspectives and international agreements


Introduction to the workshop and project objectives


Risk communication in the context of Risk Analysis as by Codex Alimentarius


How the risk is perceived by the public?


Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on Public Awareness, Education and Participation


The Aarhus Convention and GMOs


Who should be communicator?


How to interact with different stakeholders groups: journalists, scientists, rural people; policy-makers?


Why don’t scientists always have the answer?
How to communicate uncertainty?


How to prepare a communication plan and massage map


Choice of different communication channels


How to write a press release?




How to develop a communication strategy?