Food for thought: Science communication and the public understanding of science a case study
LE3 .A278 2005
Bachelor of Science
Environmental & Sustainability Studies
The objective of this research was to investigate and explain how the conversation (or lack there of) of the scientific community and the general public has shaped the course of the genetically modified (GM) food debate in Britain and Canada. In addition to providing an explanation as to how science communication has already influenced this discussion, this thesis attempts to provide insight into how to improve this discourse and by doing so, positively influence the ultimate implications of GM technology in Canadaâ€™s future. A case study approach was chosen to demonstrate the effect of science communication on public understanding in the GM food debate in Britain, as compared to Canada. The research design involved a collection and analysis of reported data in the form of a series of published opinion surveys and reports. This approach has demonstrated that science communication is the link between scientists and the public understanding of science, as it determines which scientific information is successfully communicated and which is not. It further addresses the fact that the GM food debate is not only an issue of science, but also one of social, cultural, ethical, and economic concern. The results from the case study show that the British public has tended to be more skeptical, while the Canadian public has tended to be more accepting of its governmentâ€™s GM policy. Both publics expressed considerable interest in becoming involved with the biotechnology debate. There are also collateral issues, such as the underlying motives driving GM technology, which have to be considered in ultimately drawing conclusions regarding the support of biotechnology. To improve the future, scientists, governments, and the public have to acknowledge each othersâ€™ viewpoints and be able to collaborate to make viable, sustainable choices.
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