While science has its uncertainties, much of that public trust is subsequently transferred to the scientists who inform legislators. Past studies show that scientists were seen as trustworthy sources of information; however, the public would like scientists to be more open, sharing their scientific knowledge through information sources such as mass media. For an issue as debated as agricultural biotechnology, communicating factual scientific information is a necessary ingredient in public acceptance.
Dr. Gary Wingenbach, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications at Texas A&M University, collected data from 2004 to 2005 to examine current and possible future legislators’ perceptions of biotechnology. Also, data collected on information sources used by respondents to learn more about agricultural biotechnology helped the authors understand the impact of media types when communicating the science of biotechnology to others. Results from this study have been published in a recent edition of the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.
Two groups selected for this descriptive study included elected state officers of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization and Texas House and Senate legislators. The National FFA provides opportunities for high school and college students to increase their knowledge of agriculture and develop leadership skills. The group was chosen because state FFA officers have a propensity for seeking elected public offices.
Both groups relied on the Internet and newspapers as sources for agricultural biotechnology. However, Texas legislators used the Cooperative Extension Service significantly more often than did state FFA officers, whereas the FFA officers relied more on the Internet.
“We weren’t surprised by the group differences in information source preferences,” said Wingenbach. “State FFA Officers were 18 to 20 years old, while Texas legislators were 45 to 55 years old. Information source preference through online access only has become the norm for young audiences.”
Other results showed that respondents believed it was important to continue agricultural biotechnology research on seven issues: safer food, reduction of pesticides, added nutritional value, risk compared to pesticides, benefits and/or harm to the environment, and control of released genes. Both groups thought biotechnology practices had “positive” not negative effects on the environment.
Science-based education about agricultural biotechnology through the most accessed media could produce more informed leaders. To prepare a more informed future public, other studies should assess the effects of an agricultural science curriculum on students’ understanding of agricultural biotechnology and/or other agricultural topics (e.g., BSE, avian influenza, etc.) in the media. Informed understanding of current agricultural topics, such as biotechnology practices, may lead to an informed public, and to future leaders who could more readily understand the science of agricultural biotechnology.
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at http://www.jnrlse.org/view/2009/e08-0022.pdf. After 30 days it will be available at the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education website, www.jnrlse.org. Go to www.jnrlse.org/issues/(Click on the Year, "View Article List," and scroll down to article abstract).
Today's educators are looking to the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, www.jnrlse.org, for the latest teaching techniques in the life sciences, natural resources, and agriculture. The journal is continuously updated online during the year and one hard copy is published in December by the American Society of Agronomy.
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) agronomy.org, is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.
Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences