ISSN: 17571898
First published in 2009
2 issues per volume
Volume 2 Issue 1
Cover Date: June 2010
Press news coverage of GM crops in Catalonia in 2005: A case study in environmental communication
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Authors:  Mariel Vilella Casaus 
DOI: 10.1386/cjcs.2.1.23_1

institutional marginalisation,media agenda,frame analysis,environmental communication,social and environmental conflict,genetically modified crops,

Despite the fact that the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops into agriculture and the food chain has caused great controversy worldwide over its impact on the environment and human health, Spain has become the first producer of GM crops in the European Union. Given the expansion of GM crops and the spread of GM contamination in the absence of any legal framework, in 2005 the Catalan government proposed a coexistence decree to regulate GM, conventional and organic agriculture. Protests against this proposal created a political scenario for public debate on GM crops in which the media played an important role. We focus on this political moment in Catalan politics and examine press coverage of GM crops in 2005 in popular Catalan newspapers through content and frame analyses. Results show how, despite civil protests against the measure reflected in a press coverage peak regarding GM agriculture, this issue progressively disappeared from the media agenda following a pattern of institutional marginalization. Frame analysis also reveals that the framing of GM crops as a social and environmental conflict is highly contested, whereas framing as a scientific and therefore safe biotechnology is hardly questioned. This article discusses previous research on public opinion and biotechnology, which assumed that media are responsible for public rejection of GM crops.
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