Skip to main content
×
×
Home

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on genetically engineered crops influences public discourse

  • Emily L. Howell (a1), Christopher D. Wirz (a2), Dominique Brossard (a3), Kathleen Hall Jamieson (a4), Dietram A. Scheufele (a5), Kenneth M. Winneg (a6) and Michael A. Xenos (a7)...
Abstract

In May 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released the report “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects,” summarizing scientific consensus on genetically engineered crops and their implications. NASEM reports aim to give the public and policymakers information on socially relevant science issues. Their impact, however, is not well understood. This analysis combines national pre- and post-report survey data with a large-scale content analysis of Twitter discussion to examine the report’s effect on public perceptions of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We find that the report’s release corresponded with reduced negativity in Twitter discourse and increased ambivalence in public risk and benefit perceptions of GMOs, mirroring the NASEM report’s conclusions. Surprisingly, this change was most likely for individuals least trusting of scientific studies or university scientists. Our findings indicate that NASEM consensus reports can help shape public discourse, even in, or perhaps because of, the complex information landscape of traditional and social media.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on genetically engineered crops influences public discourse
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on genetically engineered crops influences public discourse
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on genetically engineered crops influences public discourse
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dominique Brossard, Department of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Email: dbrossard@wisc.edu
References
Hide All
1 Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops, Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects(Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2016).
2 Pollack, A., “Genetically engineered crops are safe, analysis finds,” New York Times, May 17, 2016.
3 Borenstein, S., “Report: Genetically altered food safe but not curing hunger,” Associated Press, May 17, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a6eba843746746d3ba6d75b0a2072f36/report-genetically-altered-food-safe-not-curing-hunger, accessed May 8, 2018.
4 Fox, M., “Genetically modified crops are safe, report says,” NBC News, May 17, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/genetically-modified-crops-are-safe-report-says-n575436, accessed May 8, 2018.
5 Charles, D., “GMOs are safe, but don’t always deliver on promises, top scientists say,” National Public Radio, May 17, 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/05/17/478415310/top-scientists-say-gmos-are-safe-but-dont-always-deliver-on-promises, accessed May 8, 2018.
6 Bolsen, T. and Druckman, J. N., “Counteracting the politicization of science,” Journal of Communication , 2015, 65(5): 745769.
7National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “FAQs on GE crops,” https://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/2014/06/04/faq-on-ge-crops/, accessed May 8, 2018.
8National Academy of Sciences, “History,” http://www.nasonline.org/about-nas/history/, accessed May 8, 2018.
9 Cochrane, R. C., The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years 1863–1963 (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1978).
10National Academy of Sciences, “Military personnel with traumatic brain injury at risk for serious long-term health-problems; More studies needed on health effects of blast injuries,” December 4, 2008, http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12436, accessed May 8, 2018.
11 Brossard, D., “Social challenges: Public opinion and agricultural biotechnology,” in The Role of Biotechnology in a Sustainable Food Supply, Popp, J., Jahn, M., Matlock, M., and Kemper, N., eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 1731.
12 Bawa, A. S. and Anilakumar, K. R., “Genetically modified foods: Safety, risks, and public concerns — A review,” Journal of Food Science and Technology , 2013, 50(6): 10351046.
13 Frewer, L. J. et al. , “Public perceptions of agri-food applications of genetic modification — A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Trends in Food Science & Technology , 2013, 30(2): 142152.
14 Scott, S. E., Inbar, Y., and Rozin, P., “Evidence for absolute moral opposition to genetically modified food in the United States,” Pespectives on Psychological Science , 2016, 11(3): 315324.
15 Funk, C. and Rainie, L., “Public and scientists’ views on science and society,” Pew Research Center, January 29, 2015, http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/, accessed May 8, 2018.
16 Runge, K. K. et al. , “Attitudes about food and food-related biotechnology,” Public Opinion Quarterly , 2017, 81(2): 577596.
17 Hallman, W. K., Cuite, C. L., and Morin, X. K., Public Perceptions of Labeling Genetically Modified Foods (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, 2013).
18 Brossard, D. and Shanahan, J., “Do citizens want to have their say? Media, agricultural biotechnology, and authoritarian views of democratic processes in science,” Mass Communication and Society , 2003, 6(3): 291312.
19 Brossard, D. and Nisbet, M. C., “Deference to scientific authority among a low information public: Understanding U.S. opinion on agricultural biotechnology,” International Journal of Public Opinion Research , 2006, 19(1): 2452.
20 Brossard, D., “A (brave) new world? Challenges and opportunities for communicating about biotechnology in new information environments,” in Biotechnologie-Kommunikation: Kontroversen, Analysen, Aktivitaeten, Weitz, M. D. et al. , ed. (Heidelberg: Springer, 2012), pp. 427445.
21 Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Barthel, M., and Shearer, E., “The modern news consumer,” Pew Research Center, July 7, 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/the-modern-news-consumer/, accessed May 8, 2018.
22National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “Genetically engineered crops: Experiences and prospects—Stats,” https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23395/genetically-engineered-crops-experiences-and-prospects, accessed November 13, 2017.
23Pew Research Center, “Assessing the representativeness of public opinion surveys,” May 15, 2012, http://www.people-press.org/2012/05/15/assessing-the-representativeness-of-public-opinion-surveys/, accessed May 8, 2018.
24 Keeter, S., Hatley, N., Kennedy, C., and Lau, A., “What low response rates mean for telephone surveys,” Pew Research Center, May 15, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/2017/05/15/what-low-response-rates-mean-for-telephone-surveys/, accessed May 8, 2018.
25 Keeter, S. et al. , “Gauging the impact of growing nonresponse on estimates from a national RDD telephone survey,” Public Opinion Quarterly , 2006, 70(5): 759779.
26 Groves, R. M. and Peytcheva, E., “The impact of nonresponse rates on nonresponse bias,” Public Opinion Quarterly , 2008, 72(2): 167189.
27 Hopkins, D. J. and King, G., “A method of automated nonparametric content analysis for social science,” American Journal of Political Science , 2010, 54(1): 229247.
28 Ferber, D., “GM crops in the crosshairs,” Science , 1999, 286(5445): 16621666.
29 Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., and Duggan, M., “Social media update 2016,” Pew Research Center, November 11, 2016, http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/, accessed May 8, 2018.
30 Savadori, L. et al. , “Expert and public perception of risk from biotechnology,” Risk Analysis , 2004, 24(5): 12891299.
31 Frewer, L. J., Scholderer, J., and Bredahl, L., “Communicating about the risks and benefits of genetically modified foods: The mediating role of trust,” Risk Analysis , 2003, 23(6): 11171133.
32 Li, N. et al. , “Tweeting disaster: An analysis of online discourse about nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident,” Journal of Communication , 2016, 15(5): 120.
33 Price, V. et al. , “Locating the issue public: The multi-dimensional nature of engagement with health care reform,” Political Behavior , 2006, 28(1): 3363.
34 Converse, P. E., “The nature of belief systems in mass publics,” in Ideology and Discontent, Apter, D. A., ed. (New York: Free Press, 1964), pp. 206261.
35 Lull, R. B. and Scheufele, D. A., “Understanding and overcoming fear of the unnatural in discussion of GMOs,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication, Jamieson, K. H., Kahan, D., and Scheufele, D. A., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 409419.
36 National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda(Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2017).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and the Life Sciences
  • ISSN: 0730-9384
  • EISSN: 1471-5457
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed