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Differing Community Perceptions of GMOs

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BACKGROUND: Biotechnology can improve vitamin deficiencies, farming practices and yields, yet it is surrounded by controversy. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to better understand opinions Americans have about

BACKGROUND: Biotechnology can improve vitamin deficiencies, farming practices and yields, yet it is surrounded by controversy. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to better understand opinions Americans have about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), across multiple perspectives including scientists, farmers, and perceptions shared via social media. METHODS: A Google Scholar search for the term "genetically modified" (GM) produced 1,420,000 results in 0.05 seconds from the year 1988 to present, a portion of this literature was used for this study. In addition a quasi-experimental study on social media (i.e. a blog and Twitter) was performed to inspire reactions of social media users who followed the accounts @Biofortified and @BiotechFood. The study lasted for approximately three months. The analytics website, Topsy was also used to track the number of conversations that included terms like "GMO". Furthermore a plant biologist, sustainability scientist, and local farmers were interviewed to gain insights on their perceptions of GM products. RESULTS: Results generally suggest that there was no stance shared by social media users, local farmers, and researchers. It was clear however that conversation about GMOs happens daily on social media. These conversations however lack the evidence that can be learned through literature and conversations with local farmers. DISCUSSION: A plausible possible reason for the confusion and mixed opinions is that regardless of the resources (like scientific literature and agriculture workers available on GMOs), individuals appear to use moral reasoning \u2014 as defined by Jonathan Haidt \u2014 to defend their stance on GMOs, not necessarily any empirical evidence.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05