Even industry experts can disagree on how to communicate about agriculture.
At the Florida Agricultural Biotechnology Literacy and Communication Day, assistant professor Joy Rumble discussed how she related to and identified with the 2013 Dodge “God Made a Farmer” commercial and how these emotions differed from some of her friends that also worked in the agricultural industry.
The commercial resonated with her differently based on her experiences, she said, much like how the public and scientists are at odds with biotechnology or genetically modified food.
Rumble spoke about the PIE Center’s public opinion survey results at the event. The surveys showed that while consumers in Florida are largely unsure about genetically modified foods, they want to learn more.
Rumble focused on Florida consumers’ thirst for knowledge when it comes to genetically modified foods and how experts must answer that need.
“We have a real opportunity to educate the public on genetically modified foods, but we can’t just focus on knowledge and literacy,” Rumble said.
Rumble explained that the disconnect between science, which commonly shows the safety of biotechnology, and public perception was because of the public’s emotions that experts don’t usually address.
Three other UF/IFAS faculty spoke at the event as well as a Washington Post journalist, a Monsanto official and a representative from the USDA.
Kevin Folta, chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department and organizer of the event, talked about the “kinder and softer approach” that researchers must take when delivering scientific information to the public.
“We need to communicate more as friends rather than scientists,” he said.
For more information about the event or to watch the recorded video, please visit http://research.ifas.ufl.edu/biotech.shtml.