USA - The Media’s Taste for Gene-Edited Food: Comparing Media Portrayals within US and European Regulatory Environments
Jul 11, 2022
Recent gene-editing technologies are heralded by proponents as a revolution for developing gene-edited foods (GEFs) while critics demand increased governance and scrutiny of potential societal impacts. Governance of GEFs is different in the United States, where GEFs are entering the market, and Europe, which restricts GEF development. Definitive regulations for governing GEFs are not yet solidified in either region. We identify and compare how English-language media in the United States and Europe portray potential risks, benefits, and regulation of GEFs, and we explore how these portrayals may reflect their regulatory environments. Results show that the regions similarly prioritize benefit frames that emphasize the social and scientific progress GEFs may bring, and few articles express skepticism about potential benefits. Comparing samples across regions exposes differences between Europe and the United States in the risk and benefit portrayals and in governance initiatives. Both regions prioritize policy risks that are counter to their current oversight regimes: the US media sample focused on GEFs being underregulated while the European sample emphasize risks of too much regulation. This may demonstrate the power of media to reflect and even cultivate public opinion and may influence future policy revisions within these distinct regulatory environments.