Dominic Lemken
University of Göttingen

The genetically modified (GM) crop issue has been the first seed-sector issue to spin through mass media channels, shaping the opinions of the public. GM does not stand alone, isolated from other issues. Its presence in the media affects the media salience of related issues. A quantitative analysis of 75 German newspapers, with substantial and diverse audiences, reveals that intellectual property rights and market concentration are often framed by GM. The findings indicate that the debate on GM, with all its publicity, has not only directly damaged the seed industry’s reputation, but prepares the public for related issues that help antagonists to strengthen a negative image in the media cycle. We discuss implications for the seed sector.

Key words: Biotechnology, genetic engineering, market power, media agenda setting, patents.