When it comes to food technology, the information shared on social media often trumps the facts put out by the scientific community and food experts, leading to the dissemination of disinformation, "fake news" and conspiracy theories. Nowhere is this more evident than consumers' mistrust of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite assurances from the scientific community and food experts. Several studies covering this widespread risk perception of food technologies will be presented during the Visual Cues and Perceptions of Risk: Modern Agriculture in the Era of Social Media symposium on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the 2019 Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
Food technologies offer agricultural benefits, including greater global food security and sustainability, yet consumers continue to perceive them as risky and prefer organic and less efficient, traditional techniques, despite assurances from food experts. What many people don't realize is the amount of disinformation that is shared about GMOs in the media for the sole purpose of gaining attention which can be monetized, rather than providing education. Social media campaigns, which also stir up conspiracy theories, rely on this attention which can be quickly obtained by disseminating salacious headlines and compelling information, often lacking in factual accuracy. In other words, disinformation has become a form of currency for many vendors.
Camille - Ryan - PhD - Bayer - Crop
Camille Ryan, Ph.D., Bayer Crop Science, used GMOs as a case study to examine this phenomenon. Her study, "Monetizing disinformation in the attention economy: The case of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," analyzed 94,993 unique online articles about GMOs and found that a small group of alternative health and pro-conspiracy sites received more total engagement on social media than media outlet sites. It is no wonder, therefore, that social and political controversy continues to surround the GMO narrative despite the scientific consensus of the...
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