Use of a Risk Communication Model to Evaluate Dietetics Professionals' Viewpoints on Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops

Kathy S. Roberts, Marie Boyle Struble, Christine McCullum-Gomez, Jennifer L. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The complex issues surrounding the application of genetic engineering to food and agriculture have generated a contentious debate among diverse interest groups. One pervasive dimension in the resultant discourse is the varying perceptions of the risks and benefits of genetically engineered foods and crops. In the risk communication model, technical information is evaluated within the context of an individual's values and perceptions. The purpose of this study was to explore how dietetics professionals respond to a complex set of interrelated issues associated with genetically engineered foods and crops and to identify what varying viewpoints may exist. Participants were asked to sort a total of 48 statements distributed across eight issue areas according to level of agreement and disagreement. Using Q methodology, a total of 256 sortings were analyzed using the centroid method and varimax rotation in factor analysis. Three distinct viewpoints emerged: Precautionary (R2=43%), Discerning Supporter (R2=11%), and Promoting (R2=5%). Across all viewpoints, respondents agreed that dietetics professionals should employ critical thinking skills to communicate the social, economic, environmental, ethical, and technical aspects of genetically engineered foods and crops. The findings have implications for how dietetics professionals can foster an open interchange of information among diverse groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-727
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Volume106
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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