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CABI Book Chapter

The public, the media and agricultural biotechnology.

Book cover for The public, the media and agricultural biotechnology.


This book examines public perception, public deliberation and media presentation of agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified foods. Part I (chapters 1-7) is a review of some of the studies of public opinion about agricultural biotechnology, especially genetically modified organisms. Part II (chapters 8-11) focuses on empirical tests of theories of opinion formation using biotechnology a...


Chapter 9 (Page no: 231)

Opinion climates, spirals of silence and biotechnology: public opinion as a heuristic for scientific decision-making.

This chapter argues that the fact that citizens perceive themselves to be uninformed about the issue does not mean that they will not make decisions or judgements about agricultural biotechnology and the policy issues surrounding it. Rather, people's opinions are influenced by a range of factors other than information, such as ideological predispositions, the way mass media present the issue, and their perceptions of what the climate of opinion in the country looks like. The chapter examines opinions of others as one of the key shortcuts that people use when making decisions about biotechnology. It compares the competing influences of information and heuristic cues about public opinion. The research presented in this chapter relies on a theoretical model of opinion formation in societies called 'the spiral of silence'. The spiral of silence model assumes that people are very aware of the opinions of people around them and adjust their behaviours (and opinions) to majority trends, and also very aware of the fear of being on the losing side of the public debate.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 3) Perspectives on communication about agricultural biotechnology. Author(s): Brossard, D. Shanahan, J.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 21) Public perceptions of agricultural biotechnology in the UK: the case of genetically modified food. Author(s): Poortinga, W. Pidgeon, N.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 57) German reactions to genetic engineering in food production. Author(s): Peters, H. P. Sawicka, M.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 97) Mass media and public perceptions of red and green biotechnology: a case study from Switzerland. Author(s): Bonfadelli, H. Dahinden, U. Leonarz, M.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 126) Genetically modified foods: US public opinion research polls. Author(s): Fink, W. Rodemeyer, M.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 161) Biotechnology and consumer information. Author(s): Kolodinsky, J.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 179) What do Brazilians think about transgenics? Author(s): Massarani, L. Moreira, I. de C.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 193) Where do science debates come from? Understanding attention cycles and framing. Author(s): Nisbet, M. C. Huge, M.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 245) The hostile media effect and opinions about agricultural biotechnology. Author(s): Gunther, A. C. Liebhart, J. L.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 264) Risk communication, risk beliefs and democracy: the case of agricultural biotechnology. Author(s): Dunwoody, S. Girffin, R. J.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 289) The GEO-PIE project: case study of Web-based outreach at Cornell University, USA. Author(s): Nesbitt, T. C.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 308) Governing controversial technologies: consensus conferences as a communications tool. Author(s): Medlock, J. Downey, R. Einsiedel, E.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 327) The Bt maize experience in the Philippines: a multi-stakeholder convergence. Author(s): Navarro, M. J. Escaler, M. Leon, M. I. P. de Tababa, S. P.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 338) Food aid crisis and communication about GM foods: experiences from Southern Africa. Author(s): Mumba, L. E.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 365) Approval process and adoption of Bollgard cotton in India: a private company perspective. Author(s): Barwale, R. B. Char, M. Deshpande, S. Sharma, M. K. Zehr, U. B.

Chapter details

  • Author Affiliation
  • School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Department of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
  • Year of Publication
  • 2007
  • ISBN
  • 9781845932046
  • Record Number
  • 20073138826