PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Genetically modified organisms and Brazilian newspapers

Luisa Massarani   Museum of Life/Oswaldo Cruz House

Bruno Buys   Museum of Life/Oswaldo Cruz House

Isabel Magalhães   Museum of Life/Oswaldo Cruz House

Dominique Brossard   University of Wisconsin-Madison

James Shanahan   Cornell University

The objective of this paper is to map out how Brazilian newspapers are covering issues related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As study cases we chose two major newspapers in the country, O Globo and Folha de São Paulo. We focused on 2003, which was a year of great controversy in Brazil around genetically modified crops. We used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, by combining a content analysis of the stories with interviews of the main journalists who wrote them. We found that the two newspapers under study framed the issue of GMOs differently. This study can help journalists t improve the way they cover controversial issues. Ultimately, since the majority of the public gets their information about science and technology in the newspapers, the way GMOs are framed in the newspapers has important consequences for public understanding of science.

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