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Genetically Modified Organisms, Media Coverage of

  • By: Roy Schwartzman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Genetic modification refers to the insertion of genetic material from one organism into another, or the alteration of how an organism's genes operate, to achieve desirable characteristics such as resistance to herbicides or pests, nutritionally enhanced food, or raw materials for pharmaceuticals. The amount of media coverage devoted to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) generally correlates with revelations of technological breakthroughs or risks to health.

The pattern of coverage is episodic, with intense concentrations of media attention to specific incidents such as suspected food contamination from genetically modified (GM) crops. Attention to GMOs then tapers off until another crisis or breakthrough arises.

Meta-analyses of print and television news content since the 1970s find that GMOs on average receive very little coverage in the United States, even less than ...

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