Misinformation in the media: global coverage of GMOs 2019-2021

Abstract: Misinformation is a serious problem in scientific debates ranging from climate change to vaccines to nuclear power. In this study we quantitatively assess the phenomenon of misinformation – defined as information which is at variance with widely-accepted scientific consensus – on genetically modified crops and food (“GMOs”) in the mainstream and online news media over a two-year period. We found an overall falsehood rate of 9% with a potential readership of 256 million. None of the misinformation was positive in sentiment; most was negative. About a fifth of Africa’s media coverage on GMOs contained misinformation, a worrying finding given the potential for genetic engineering to deliver improved nutrition and food security in the continent. We conclude that misinformation about GMOs in the mainstream media is still a significant problem, and outranks the proportion of misinformation in other comparable debates such as COVID-19 and vaccines.

For the full scientific paper, see the journal GM Crops & Food.