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Consumer trust in science, PIE Center survey

April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014

Because scientists speak in numbers, graphs and jargon, they can have trouble communicating scientific findings to a lay audience. University of Florida researchers Drs. Alexa Lamm and Joy Rumble questioned a representative sample of Florida residents to determine level of trust in science with a series of questions like “Do you believe science improves overall human health,” and “do you believe science improves quality of life,” etc. Once they had determined level of trust in science generally, they asked specific questions about water resource science and GMO food science. They found that the higher the level of trust in science generally, the greater the distrust in governmental policy regarding water resources, of example, and the more skepticism of participants in GMO foods.

The researches shared their findings recently in a free online webinar: Consumer Trust in Science and its impact on decision-making related to Agriculture and Natural Resources. The subtitle of the webinar, “and its impact on decision-making…” was left to the audience to determine. There were comments afterward with examples of areas where the general public doesn’t trust science, as in changing dietary guidelines, for example, and when policy decisions are based politics and money rather than science.

One of the participants added this link in the chat section:

Most of the 80-some webinar participants were from UF, FWC and Ag Extension offices, and there were folks from Purdue Univ. and Iowa St. Univ., and from Virginia, Utah and Hawaii.

The University of Florida IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) responds to the many economic, environmental and social challenges the agriculture and natural resources industries face by measuring the knowledge, behaviors and attitudes of consumers and constituents. The PIE Center then shares its findings with stakeholders through educational outreach and training programs using cutting-edge technology. Many PIE Center resources including webinars are freely available to the public. Check it out!

Report by past president Terry Godts, Green Isle Gardens Nursery