Communicating about contentious critical public issues: The case of GMO labeling Dr. Joy Rumble and Nicole Dodds
What is the PIE Center? UF/IFAS Center State funded Research-based solutions for ANR issues • Communication research • Public opinion research • Perception research • Public policy evaluation Outreach
Overview Introduction Communicating about contentious issues Evaluating information Floridians’ purchasing intent for GMOs Arguments- GMO labeling policy Proposed legislation Break Case Study/Simulations Debrief and discuss Review/summary
Setting the stage Are you asked about controversial issues by your clientele? Do you find it challenging to discuss polarizing issues? What controversial issues do you encounter most often? Have you been asked about GMO labeling in the workplace by clientele? Do you personally know what side of the GMO labeling debate you are on? Has anyone read HB1 or SB558 from the 2014 legislative session? What we are not talking about today: the science
Discussing critical issues Issues are complicated We cannot ignore them
Conversation starters Offer you an easy way to: • Stay up to date on current, new, or proposed public policy • Have quick reference materials about contentious issues • Incorporate public policy information and communication strategies into conversations
Communication strategies – Role of neutrality Recognize conflict as ok Seek 1st to understand Check your own bias Don’t take sides Remain calm Be aware of non-verbal cues
Communication strategies – Role of neutrality Pose questions to encourage • Broader thinking • Consideration of alternative arguments Check with IFAS for guidance
Communication strategies – Relaying Information Acknowledge science, policy, and public opinion Recognize uncertainty Expert vs. personal opinions Use of language – appeals to emotion Evaluating information sources
Evaluating information sources Authority Bias Quality Timeliness Relevancy Red flags Special concerns about Internet sources
Red Flags Spelling and typographical errors Poor grammar Inflammatory or emotional language or images Graphic styles aimed at persuading you to accept the author’s point of view Vague or sweeping generalizations that are not back by evidence Broad generalizations that overstate or oversimplify the matter Political, ideological, or financial goals
Internet concerns A, B, Q, T, R
Public opinion: About the survey Survey conducted in late 2013: 510 Florida residents over 18 years. Data were weighted to represent FL population demographics. Perceptions and concerns about GMOs/genetic modification
Public opinion: Results GMO labeling “I believe genetically modified food should be labeled”
How do issues influence policy? Policy problem • A condition or situation that produces needs or dissatisfaction among people, who then desire government action. Interest groups Media Political agenda
GMO Labeling- Background Genetically engineered food Food that consists of, contains or is produced from an organism or organisms in which the genetic material has been changed through cell fusion or in-vitro nucleic acid techniques.
GMO Labeling- Background Root of issue
GMO Labeling- Background Authority
GMO Labeling- Background Existing labeling policy • Pose health or environmental risks • Mislead consumers • Easily assumed characteristics • Significantly different nutritional property • Includes allergens • Includes toxicant beyond acceptable limits
GMO Labeling- Background Similar terms
GMO Labeling- Positions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BjuoitLVSY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI31JogDLjM Based on what you know of the debate, what are the positions for/against GMO labeling policy?
GMO Labeling: Proponent Position Those in favor of labeling emphasize consumers’ right to know what is in their food as an important attribute of a democratic society.
GMO Labeling: Opponent Position Those opposed are concerned about the increased cost of food and the logistical challenges of labeling with no corresponding improvement in human health or food safety.
Pro-labeling arguments • Is supported by Floridians with 93% agreeing or strongly agreeing • Empowers choice • Informs consumers • Enables consumers to avoid GMOs • Aligns with at least 40 other countries •Enhances U.S. capacity to export
Anti-labeling arguments •Voluntary labeling measures • Consumers can purchase certified organic • Consumer options could decrease • No other food production process requires labeling • It could be misleading • Labeling is not needed to identify GMOs containing animal genes • Food costs could rise
Proposed in Florida- HB1 and SB 558 Provides definitions Provides a list of commercial commodities found by the legislature to be commonly commercially cultivated in GE form Requires FDACS to publish compile and publish such a list annually Requires mandatory labeling for GE raw agricultural commodities & processed foods containing them Lists exempted foods Provides for enforcement of labeling requirements Provides civil remedies & penalties (slight difference)
Proposed federal law- Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H. R. 4432) Introduced April 2014 Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Preempts any state or local laws • GMOs intended for food use • Labeling requirements Prohibit voters from proposing initiatives at the state level Supported by GMA Reportedly- would require food companies to submit new GMOs to the FDA for review • Includes ‘base products’ not processed foods (final food products).
Break 10 minutes
Case Study- Pair Share 10 min. Split into pairs Each pair will be assigned a case study In your pair talk through the case study Discuss the questions posed Prepare to share your ideas with the group
Case Study- Pair Share 10 min. How would talking to each of these groups be similar? How would talking to each of these groups be different? What would be the challenges associated with talking to each of these groups about proposed GMO labeling?
Simulations 35 min. Imagine it is 2015 and GMO labeling legislation has been proposed in the state legislature again. This topic is on the minds of volunteers, clientele, and Extension faculty alike.
Simulation directions 35 min. Find a new person to partner with Two role-play simulations Decide who will play the role of the Extension Agent and who will play the role of the clientele • For the second simulation you will switch roles ~5 minutes to prepare and familiarize yourself with your role ~10 minutes for each simulation
Simulation discussion 15 min. What went well? What could have gone better? Why is it challenging to discuss contentious issues? What other issues are contentious in your county? How did the simulation help you think about how you may communicate about a contentious issue in the future?
What we talked about today Strategies for communicating about contentious issues Methods of evaluating information Floridians’ purchasing intent for GMOs Proposed legislation Arguments for and against GMO labeling policy Case Study/Simulations
Conversation Starters materials Were they helpful? What did you like? What could be improved upon? What topics are most pertinent to you and conversations you might have? Evaluation
Contact us:Joy Rumble – firstname.lastname@example.orgNicole Dodds– email@example.com Questions? www.piecenter.com