E. Balazs
Genetic engineering made it possible to transfer different traits from one living organisms into another. This technology led to the production of transgenic plants with novel traits for agricultural purposes, such as herbicide, insect or virus resistance. The global area of transgenic crops continued to grow from 1.6 million hectares in 1996 to over 60 million hectares in 2003. This increment is not limited anymore to the North American continent, however it is characteristic for the developing countries such as India or Indonesia too. A large number of civil organisations, “greens”, express concern about the potential long term effect of spread of transgenes in nature and also some greens brand food developed through agri-biotech as unnatural and suggest as dangerous for human health, when such food is consumed. They are also opposing the introduction of this technology as they are against multinationals who actually developed this technology. These extremists are well trained media communicators, and they are getting media attraction by using pseudoscientific information to influence public perceptions. They are well informed about the general low level knowledge of the society about this new technology, and use several expressions which could easily influence the public, such as “Frankenfood,” “superweeds”, etc. Their campaigns are well designed into different regions. In Europe they often argue about the overproduction, neglecting the fact that ag-food products are imported into Europe from other parts of the world, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the yearly needs. In Africa they usually influence the governments politically that US based multinationals are just want to colonialise them, and they won’t be able to sell agricultural products in the EU countries if they are growing GM crops. The societies are usually miss-informed by the different statistical analyses on public perceptions. Those surveys are in most cases badly designed and biased by the real facts. The media faces numerous challenges in attempting to inform the public about real hazards and dangers in this world without causing mass hysteria. They are also facing with manipulation from a variety of sources, pressure groups, big businesses, political parties and so on. This usually affects the quality of the coverage on this important issue. As environmental degradations and human health are in the center of interests of human mankind, the public information is not only very important, however this should be done on a very open, transparent way to help understand this high tech and also to ensure its safe introductions.
Balazs, E. (2006). A REAL THREAT OF MANIPULATION. Acta Hortic. 725, 733-736
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2006.725.102
genetic engineering, public acceptance

Acta Horticulturae