Disinformation in farming and food production: the bad stuff is always easier to believe

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Hello Build Up Dietitians community! Thank you for inviting me into your virtual living room this Friday, July 24th at noon EST to chat about DISINFORMATION!

To prepare for our lively discussion, feel free to check out the sources below… 1) blog post, 2) academic paper, 3) SciPod podcast, 4) twitter threads.

1) This blog post from LinkedIn The bad stuff is always easier to believe: disinformation, modern ag, and societies is a good introduction to what we will be talking about on Friday.

2) Additionally, here is a link to the academic article that colleagues and I wrote on the topic. It is entitled The Monetization of Disinformation: the case of GMOs and was published in a special issue of the European Management Journal on The Dark Side of Social Media in December 2019. The journal article” but provides evidence and understanding of how misinformation impacts science and societies. We use GMOs as a case study, but this could (generally) apply to any number of issues (from farm to fork and beyond (public health issues)).

  • Summary:
    • We analyzed a dataset of 94,993 unique online articles (2009-2019) for the evaluation of various tactics that contribute to the evolving GMO narrative. Preliminary results suggest that a small group of alternative health and pro-conspiracy sites received more totals engagements on social media than sites commonly regarded as media outlets on the topic of GMOs. Other externalities observed include continued social and political controversy that surround the GMO topic as well as the growth of additional product and marketing approaches such as “non-GMO” verification.
    • Social media has revolutionized how we connect as human beings and is a vehicle for sharing false or deceptive information (disinformation).
    • Disinformation is firmly planted in the ‘attention economy’, a competitive economy where human attention is a scarce resource.
    • Disinformation is used by vendors to attract readership with strategies to monetize it.
    • Disinformation influences public opinion and risk perceptions and this, in turn, results in policies developed based on disinformation rather than scientific evidence.
    • Disinformation has been used to problematize science, impeding innovation and affecting social license to operate across a number of sectors (science, farming and food production, etc).
  • Importance of the study
    • Distortion of science inappropriately raises the risk profile of good technologies which results in delays in getting socially vital products to the market (e.g., virus resistant cassava), or shelved or unrealized innovations (e.g., New Leaf potato, Calgene tomato), and even the loss of important research through vandalization of field trials.

Profiting-from-Disinformation-The-Case-of-Genetically-Modified-Organisms-Bayer-Crop-Science

3) Don’t want to read the study? I get it and I don’t blame you! If you are a podcast lover and love the audio experience like I do, here is a SciPod summary of the paper which provides a 9 minute easy-listening overview of the paper. Profiting from Disinformation: The Case of Genetically Modified Organisms.

 

 

4) Other social media bits that complement and support the paper:

@CamiDRyan Twitter threads: