Perception of Three Agricultural Applications of Genetic Engineering
Global food security is a challenge that must be faced in the next few decades, food production must increase whilst maintaining or, ideally, improving environmental sustainability of agriculture for food. Genetically engineered crops for food are widely praised within the scientific community as presenting a solution for global food security. The use of corn genetically engineered to be tolerant to commonly-used herbicide Round-up, for example, presents several benefits for the environment, economic benefit for the farmer, and for the consumer. Despite the benefits of genetically engineered crops, a widespread gap in public awareness, knowledge, and exists. The present research sought to further understand the drivers of public perception of genetic engineering, and whether information had the potential to induce change in perception of genetic engineering technology. The experimental design involved administering an online survey to participants residing in the U.S.A. Participants answered a series of questions to assess their knowledge of genetic engineering techniques. Following this, questions about one of three agricultural applications of genetic engineering were presented, and some information of the relevant application to assess how perceptions may change in response to information. The results indicate that knowledge correlates with trust in some institutes, but not others, and that knowledge does not correlate with risk perceptions of the technology. Of the three agricultural applications investigated, nutritional enrichment was perceived to present the least risk to the environment and human health. Only benefit perception was found to improve after presenting information to participants.
Advisor: Bering, Jesse
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: genetic engineering; perception; knowledge; trust
Research Type: Thesis