Texas Legislators' Perceived Trust, Bias, and Fairness of Biotechnology Information Sources
Keywords:agricultural biotechnology, elected state leaders, information sources
Elected leaders’ perceptions of agricultural biotechnology issues can be influenced by their information sources prior to the legislative process. This study examined information source trustworthiness, bias, and fairness in communicating agricultural biotechnology issues, as perceived by Texas’ legislators. Thirty-six House and Senate legislators perceived university scientists/researchers as trustworthy, unbiased, and fair in communicating agricultural biotechnology issues; activist groups were viewed as untrustworthy, completely biased, and unfair on the same issues. Texas’ legislators were most concerned about the economic implications of agricultural biotechnology. They held negative attitudes toward public participation in making scientific decisions, regardless of people’s knowledge of the issues involved. A positive association existed between legislators’ attitudes toward democratic processes in science and 1) concerns about agricultural biotechnology issues, and 2) trust in the Internet. Texans who work with or are affected by agricultural biotechnology issues should become active participants in the legislative processes for these issues. Elected leaders and their constituents should continue to examine their information sources in terms of trustworthiness, bias, and fairness in reporting agricultural biotechnology issues, and how those sources may impact future agricultural biotechnology policies.