Wednesday, July 21, 2010
STUDY FINDS MEDIA MAY BE OVERHYPING BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD, AGRICULTURE
Kansas State University
MANHATTAN -- News accounts of organic agriculture and organic food are more likely to be positive than negative and inaccurately claim organic food is safer, according to Kansas State University's Doug Powell.
Powell, an associate professor of food safety, is the co-author of "Coverage of organic agriculture in North American newspapers: Media -- linking food safety, the environment, human health and organic agriculture," just published in the British Food Journal.
The paper is based on a study Powell conducted from 1999-2004 with two colleagues at the University of Guelph in Canada, Stacey Cahill and Katija Morley. Cahill was one of Powell's students at the time.
The team explored how topics of organic food and agriculture were discussed in five North American newspapers. Using the content analysis technique, the 618 articles collected were analyzed for topic, tone and theme regarding food safety, environmental concerns and human health.
The prominent topics of the articles were genetic engineering, pesticides and organic farming, Powell said.
The analysis found 41.4 percent of the articles had a neutral tone toward organic agriculture and food, 36.9 percent had a positive tone, 15.5 percent were mixed and 6.1 percent were negative, Powell said.
"We concluded that articles about organic production in the selected time period were seldom negative," he said. "Organic agriculture was often portrayed in the media as an alternative to allegedly unsafe and environmentally damaging modern agriculture practices. That means organic was being defined by what it isn't, rather than what it is." Read More
This is an interesting look at how the media rarely uses objectivity in their reporting any more. They have been more than happy to just jump on a bandwagon of untruths about modern agriculture. There is no doubt that all production systems have a place in agriculture, that’s not the point of this discussion. The point is that the media is failing their clientele with their preference to unobjectively follow trends rather than inform their readers. ~Troy