Gary J. Wingenbach and Tracy A. Rutherford
Texas A&M University.

What sources of information do media professionals use, and what is the frequency of use, when covering agricultural biotechnology issues? Fifty Texas and 40 national agriculture journalists responded to this study. Respondents accepted genetic modification of plant life but viewed this same practice as unacceptable for human use. They believed it important to continue biotechnology research to reduce pesticides, provide benefits to the environment, and to have safer food. Respondents believed that biotechnology practices would have positive effects on food production, commercial farming, health, environment, fish and wildlife, and small-scale farms. They often relied on their scientific knowledge and previous science classroom/lab experiences in establishing/maintaining their perceptions of agricultural biotechnology. Significant moderate positive relationships existed between acceptance of biotechnology practices and technical publications/reports and the Cooperative Extension Service. No one media source is a panacea; use all sources to communicate the benefits and risks of agricultural biotechnology.

Key words: Agricultural biotechnology, information sources, journalists, perceptions.