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Arguments and actors in recent debates over US genetically modified organisms (GMOs)


  • Katherine Mintz

    () (New York University)


Abstract The American public remains divided on the issue of genetic modification. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 57 % of 2002 respondents consider genetically modified organisms generally unsafe. In comparison, 88 % of 3748 scientists consider GMOs generally safe. To understand this divergence in opinion related to GMOs, I analyzed 200 headlines and articles from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post published between 2011 and 2013. I focused on the key arguments and who is making them. The results showed that newspapers presented 207 favorable and 250 unfavorable mentions of GMOs. The findings revealed the arguments “GMO technical performance” and “potential for environmental harm,” along with actors described as the “biotechnology industry” and “U.S. government,” received more media attention, measured by the frequency of mentions in articles. The arguments, and the actors that drive them, play a vital role in public opinion forming and affect ethical, practical, political, and scientific considerations of GMOs. This research provides insight into arguments influencing public opinion on genetic modification and actors with the potential to change the GMO debate.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine Mintz, 2017. "Arguments and actors in recent debates over US genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 7(1), pages 1-9, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:7:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s13412-016-0371-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-016-0371-z

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