Research method report -attitudes to GM technology.
Appendix C: Observation Sheet
Appendix D: Observation Sheet
Genetically modified crops are produced by addition of other genetic material from other organisms, and the bad genes are removed, resulting in better quality crops Usually genetically modified crops would increase crop yields, improve quality, increase drought resistance, and cold resistance and other features. However, nowadays, the effectiveness and value of the genetically modified crops are controversial. The research aims to elicit the students' perception of the genetically modified crops. The thesis would try to realize the aim by means of answering the questions of the genetically modified crops, is it good for the agriculturally poor land to yield products and the analysis of its impact on nature.
2. Literature review and knowledge underpinning the research questions
Genetically modified crops (Genetically Modified Foods, GMF) due to its cold and drought resistance, and insect resistance ability, has been praised those countries that lack national crops storage, Munzer (2006). However, the opponents said that the research on the safety of genetically modified food is in a short term, thus, it is hard to can not foresee the risks of the genetically modified crops in a long term in a decade in future for instance. And they are also worried about that the genetically modified crops are not the natural development of the agricultural products, and it does not have the original varieties. For the ecosystem in the world, it is the alien organism. What they are more anxious about is the possibility that such self-breeding and hybridization would get close to other species, which might lead to the genetic contamination when that exotic species spread to the traditional biological system. Apparently, genetically modified crops are not different from the ordinary plants, and it just has more additional features with regard to the gene. In Europe the opposite voice against the genetically engineered crops is common to hear. Even the European Union has cautioned the public that the rational and reasonable attitude toward the genetically engineered crops should be taken in that the Europeans have suffered from the genetically engineered crops, Schubert (2002). Of course, there are also some Europeans regardless of the tremendous harm of the modified genes, try to spread the genetically modified crops within and outside the Europe. Within Europe, genetically engineered crops are usually perceived as an example of scientists meddling with nature while outside Europe it is often presented as significant for poor agricultural land. Bear the controversial debate in mind, the author would try to find out where the controversial opinions lie in and how the genetically modified crop is controversial. In addition, in order to elicit the viewpoints of the student of those differences in perception on the genetically modified crops, the quantitative research and qualitative research method are employed. The research method could be principally the quantitative method and the qualitative research method, Creswell, (2008). The thesis would implement the quantitative research method and the qualitative research method. To be more specific, the interview and questionnaire would be adopted. On the other hand, an interview would be undertaken for the purpose of the elicitation of information of the perception of the students, including their understanding of the genetically modified crops; the attitude toward the genetically modified crops; etc. The questionnaire is an instrument that commonly used in the academic research, Foddy (1994), it consists of a list of in order to gather information from the participants. The insurance of the ethic procedures would make the interviewees feel free to talk. Therefore, more objective answer should be obtained.
3. Presentation of findings and analysis
According to the interview of two students and the questionnaire data, it could be said that as to the genetically modified crops with regard to mainly two aspects, the positive effect on agricultural production and the negative impact on nature, different students have different perceptions.
3.1 Data findings of the interview
3.1.1 Perception on positive effect on agricultural production of the poor land
As to the perception on positive effect on agricultural production of the poor land, two attitudes are taken by the participants. The one is in the support of that positive impact and the other is opposite to that statement. On the one hand, the as the interviewee A has ascertained the importance of the genetically modified crops particular in terms of that the introduction of the genetically modified crops have solved the starvation of most under-developed countries. The genetically modified crops results from the development of the transgenic technology. To evaluate if the product of a technology is good or bad, the first concern is who enjoys the technology, the second is dependent upon whether it is cost-effective. In order to answer those two questions, not only the scientific analysis must be considered, but also the analysis should go beyond the scientific traditions. That is to say, the analysis of the genetically modified crops should be based on the perspective of the society and the environment. The success of any technology must allow users to get benefits.
For example, the genetically modified crops growing in Philippine, where the weather is very hot all year around. In 2000, she said that she has read from the books that Philippine had experienced the unprecedented drought. The Philippine Government had sent out a work team to publicize the genetically modified corn. The local people are very interested in that corn which does not require spraying, they take the initiative to apply the experimental planting of genetically modified corn to their own fields. At that time, genetically modified corn has not yet been approved, the non-governmental organization (NGO) in Philippine was preparing a large-scale protest. However, the genetically modified corn at last had been growing in Philippine. In addition, the multinational corporation, for example, Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer and Bayer as well as Corn World and Bioseed have entered into the Philippine genetically modified market. There is another factor that could not be overlooked. The eating habits of the Filipino is a strange East-West combination. They usually eat rice, meat and fish, rarely eat vegetables and tofu, which requires a very large demand for animal feed. Among the various animal feed, the corn is undoubtedly the most cost-effective, while corn is the earliest, the most technically mature genetically modified food. The successful introduction of the genetically modified corn by Philippine government is closely related to the above-mentioned factors.
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However, on the other hand, as stated by the interviewee B, the transgenic technology in medicine has achieved a lot. However, in agriculture it has gone wrong. The commercialization of genetically modified crops are designed mainly for farmers' need, they reduce the labor intensity of the farmers, reduce the cost of farming and increase the profits of agriculture. For consumers, that is, ordinary people who all eat food, genetically modified crops is more like an invisible monster, no one can tell where it merits lie in, nor why should farmers grow it. No wonder there are a considerable number of people who are opposed to genetically modified crops. That might be attributed to that fact most people think that technology does not aim to serve them. There is a large number of students from various countries that would not like to see the genetically food on their plates. The interviewee A insists that most people lack expertise, and they only turned to look at the opinion of a few leaders, media workers, and experts. So, a few experts and scholars stand out to raise questions about genetically modified agriculture and service objects and service efficiency, claiming that genetically modified technology is a tool for large companies to make money and the potential hazard remains unseen. However, such skeptical opinions are untenable.
Nevertheless, another voice stated that with the development of the science and technology, the genetically modified crop is not a new thing to ordinary people, and the genetically modified products are not limited to the crops, but other products, including the oil we eat everyday, the popcorn we eat while watching movies in the cinema, the French fries we eat at McDonald, etc. As to the poor land that could not yield much crops, the crops would be imported from other countries where the land is rich to produce the crops. And the use of the genetically modified crops should be banned and kicked out from the dinner tables. As interviewee B said that the negative impact of the genetically modified crops on the land is really very serious and tough, which he has listed as below.
For one thing, genetically modified crops may evolve into farmland weeds. Due to the import of exogenous genes, genetically modified crops could enhance the competition for survival and reproductive capacity, and its growth potential, tolerance of winter, seed production, etc., are stronger than parental or wild species. If the cultivation have been promoted, particularly those that released into the environment would quickly become the new dominant populations, which may evolve into farmland weeds because those wild plants are not resistant to that newly-emerged species. For example, the Canadian commercial cultivation of genetically modified oilseed only a few years after, the land has the herbicide-resistant and self-seeding features. The experts predict that that weed of genetically modified oilseed would do the most serious harm to the Canadian prairie region.
For another, the genetically modified product might affect other species via drift. Under natural conditions, cultivation of different species might lead to the gene flow. For example, Mexican corn contamination incident once caused widespread concern, which refers to contamination of the wild corn by the genetically modified maize DNA fragments in the remote mountainous areas of Mexico, and the contamination ratio of up to 35%. The genetically modified crops have the resistance to herbicides, pesticides and virus resistance genes, which is likely to transfer to other species through channels such as pollen, resulting in more damage.
3.1.2 Perception of negative impact on nature of the genetically modified crops
As to the perception of the negative impact on the nature of the genetically modified crops, different students have different opinions as well.
In the statement of the interviewee A, that the civilization of human beings would to a large extent at the expense of the nature. That has been widely accepted and in a long term, the development of the modernization and science and technology would exert impact on the nature both in a positive and a negative way. However, the success of the genetically modified crops mainly lies in the fact it really improve the storage of the crops worldwide. The starvation in some countries have already been reduced.
As to the interviewee B, the negative impact on the nature is emphasized. The power of nature could not be overlooked no matter how advanced the development of science and technology would be. The natural development of the plant and humans is based upon a certain harmonious system. That is what ordinary people know, i.e., the ecosystem. In addition every creature in the world has its own natural development process and they are closely linked to one another, and each of them constitutes the harmonious and balanced development of the chain. However, the genetically modified crops break that chain, resulting in certain breaks that could not be fill, and those breaks would lead to the imbalance of the universe as a whole.
3.2 Data findings of the questionnaire
There are mainly two interests of the questionnaire, the one is to which degree the students are agree with the viewpoint that the genetically modified crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature; the other is to which degree the students are agree with the perspective that the genetically modified crops are often presented as important for poor agricultural land. The scoring sheets are listed as below.
Sheet 1 To what extent the GM crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature
According to scoring sheet one, it could be seen directly that of the questionnaire that aims to elicit the perception of to what extent the genetically modified crops are often presented as the scientists meddling with nature. The students who agree with that statement account for a majority. Most of them are Chinese, students from European countries, Nigerian, Indian students where the agriculture development is not modernized and where the large storage of the crops are needed in order to satisfy the use of the customers. Especially Chinese students and Nigerians. Most of them are in the support of the genetically modified crops. Among the participants, most Chinese students have a neutral and a strong support of the genetically modified crops. However, a small group of people for instance the Saudi Arabia and Vietnamese disagree with that the genetically modified crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature. In a addition, a certain group of Chinese students and a larger group of students from the European countries take a disagreed attitude toward that statement. Moreover, most of the Nigerian and a tiny part of EU students are strong disagree with the statement that the genetically modified crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature. The students from Saudi Arabia don't agree with the statement that the genetically modified crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature
Sheet 2 To what extent the GM Crops are often presented as important for poor agricultural land.
According to the scoring sheet 2, the preference of the students with regard to the extent they agree with the statement that the genetically modified crops are often presented as an important resort for the poor agricultural land could be seen very clearly. It is very obvious that non of the participants are in the support of the strong disagreement with that statement. It means that all the participants involved in the questionnaire ascertain the significance of the genetically modified crops in the agricultural development of the agriculture in particular in the countries where the land too poor to grow crops. As to those participant who are disagree with that the genetically modified crops play an important role in the countries where the land is poor, only a tiny proportion could be seen, they are Nigerian, Saudi Arabia, Chinese and Vietnamese. In terms of those who are standing in the neutral, the Chinese students account for a majority, and second to which is the EU students, others are a few students from Taiwan, India, Pakistan and Vietnamese. With regard to the size of students who are supportive of the role of the genetically modified crops in the poor-land country, again, Chinese stands for a majority. The students from the European countries and a large number of Nigerian are second to Chinese students, with a tiny proportion of Vietnamese who also agree with that statement. In addition to that, only the students from two countries reveal strong agreement with the statement that the genetically modified crops are crucial for the agricultural particularly the supply of crops in those countries where the land is poor.
4. Reflections on the collection and utilization of data
Since the genetically modified crops both has its positive impact on the production of the crops in the countries where agricultural land is poor and the negative impact on the sound development and the harmony of the nature. The genetically modified crops should be grown seriously, that is to say, the advantage of the genetically modified crops should be taken fully while reducing its negative impact on nature. In order to take advantage of the genetically modified crops. There are some useful and suggestive strategies that could be proposed.
Firstly, a good command of the food security should be realized. These strategies that could be applied in order to cultivate the sense of food security is to ensure a sustainable, low-input, energy-saving operation of the land so as to maintain the construction of soil and strengthen the resilience of natural resistance to pests. In addition, the innovative farming approaches should be taken to reduce and eliminate the high cost of chemical insecticide and fertilizer. The application of each type of staple food crops in thousands of traditional agriculture crops should be realized in that those crops could naturally adapt to a variety of natural pressures such as drought, hot flashes, adverse weather conditions, water logging, saline, poor soil, pests and diseases, Jerry (1996). In addition, the existing crops and the breeding programs of their wild family should be applied so as to develop the diversity of communication and then to enable farmers to collaboratively maintain and improve the practical test of the improvement of the seeds. Moreover, the modern biology and its advantage could be implemented. Such as market electioneering, that is to accelerate traditional breeding by means of the latest genetic knowledge, Collard and Mackill (2008). The combination of the market engineering and the transgenic technology would be realized in an effort to produce a new variety of crops in a secure way, thus produce valuable hybrid graft body, improve nutrition, increase taste, increase yield, resist pests and diseases, as well as develop their resistance of drought and heat, etc., Witcombe (2008). For instance, the organic biological farming and low-input farming in Africa have been improved. Many recent studies have shown that such as bio-organic low-input practices in African countries could not only greatly increase production, but also bring other benefits, Achim (2008). The advantages of that approach is knowledge-based, rather than being based on the high investment. The result is that it is easier for the farmers to accept that approach than accepting the expensive and high-tech approach.
The reason why most Chinese student are in the support of the significant role of the genetically modified crops in the agricultural poor land lies in the fact that China is an agricultural nation, it population is very large. As a result, the demand for crops also very urgent and large. However, the land in China especially the Northeastern part and the southwest proportion are not very fruitful for the farmers to grow the crops. The large demand and the relatively weak production made the reference to the genetically modified crops become a must. Thus, most Chinese people have obtained and are still getting the benefits of the genetically modified crops. Therefore, they agree with the important role of the genetically modified crops. However, the students from Saudi Arabia disagree with the importance of the role of the genetically modified crops in that in Saudi Arabia, the genetically modified crops are not grown even though the Agricultural Ministry of Saudi Arabia has agreed to import genetically modified crops for human and animal consumption. The Agricultural Ministry of Saudi Arabia has banned the imports of agricultural use of genetically modified animals and their by-products, genetically modified seeds, dates, and ornamental plants, Johson (2009). Therefore, they do not agree with that statement.
The genetically modified crops are not grown and the genetically modified products used for agriculture could not be imported, that might be attributed to the fact that people in Saudi Arabia do not know how the genetically modified crops would damage the original system of the nature. So, most students come from Saudi Arabia are not in the support of the statement that the genetically modified crops are often presented as scientists meddling with nature. Chinese students also feel that statement is right to some extent, which might be due to the reason that in China, the environment protection also become very important. In addition, not only in China, but also in other countries, for instance, India, and other European countries, the environment protection has gradually become important, and the students from those countries are aware of the threat of the genetically modified crops to the nature.
What should be noted in particular is the perception of the European students. Among the participants of the questionnaire, both the support of the positive role of the genetically modified crops on the agriculture of the poor land and the support of the negative impact of the genetically modified crops on the nature could be seen, that is to say, in Europe, the attitude of the students toward the genetically modified crops are dialectical. However, is could be seen from the above data and information collected that the students from various countries have different perception of the genetically modified crops, for one thing, as to the negative role the genetically modified crops play in the harmonious development of the nature, both students from the developing country and the students from the developed country take both the supportive and appositive attitude, that might be attributed to the fact that both the students from the developing countries and the developed countries are aware of the threats of the genetically modified crops to the nature; for another, tn terms of the significant role of the genetically modified crops in the poor agricultural land, the scorings are also different. The students from the developing countries perceived more that the role of genetically modified crops in the production of the crops is crucial and the students from the developed countries also perceive that statement. However, some developing countries also disagree with that perception. That might be attributed to the different experience of those students and the concrete situations in their countries.
It has been proposed that the sense of food security and the employment of the organic agriculture development has also been put forward. However, that is not enough since the risks of the genetically modified crops are many. For instance, it might affect the balance of the ecosystem, it might affect the sound cultivation of other species, and so on. As a result, it could be said that the risks of the genetically modified crops might exert negative impact on the nature as a whole in a long term. In addition, what we do today to reduce that risks is to pave the way for our future generations. It could also be said that such task is enduring and time-consuming in that not only on generation but also more than one generations should work together to establish a sound development of the genetically modified crops and lead its development in a right direction. As a result, both the students from the West and the East, and both the government from the West and the East should spare no efforts to reduce those risks. That is to say, for the government, the relevant rules and policies should be made and implemented in a strict way. For instance, the ban of the imports of the overseas genetically modified crops and the agricultural equipments; Crawley et al (1999), the restriction of the advertisement of the genetically modified crops and the by-products. In terms of the restriction of the imported genetically modified crops, Saudi Arabia has successfully implemented the rules and policies and well controlled the development of the genetically modifies crops throughout the country. As to the individual, the sense of good security should be established. The individual should have the awareness to protect themselves. Therefore, it is suggested that when they purchase the crops, attention should be paid to make clear if the crops are genetically modified in a scientific way in that there are some so-called genetically modified crops that might not compatible to the international standard.
According to what have been explored and analyzed, it could be said that the genetically modified crops have both the advantage and disadvantage, and different students from different countries have different opinions about that. Regardless of what they said. However, it is very important take advantage of the genetically modified crops while reducing its negative impact as soon as possible.
Achim, S. 2008. Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. Foreword by Supachai Panitchpakdi.United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).p. 16.
Collard, B. and Mackill, J.2008. Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. pp.557-572.
Crawley, M. Rees, H.M. and Kohn, D. et al. 1999. Ecology of transgenic oilseed rape in natural habitats. Nature. 363：620-623．
Creswell, W. 2008. Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd). London: Oxford University.
Foddy, W.H. 1994. Constructing questions for interviews and questionnaires: Theory and practice in social research (New ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Jerry, M. 1996. Lost Crops of Africa, Vol.1: Grains. National Research Council (Washington DC, USA) Report, 1996.
Johson, B. 2009. Genetically modified crops and other organisms:implications for agricultural sustainability and biodiversity. International Conference of Food Security in Developing Countries：Can Biotechnology Help? World Bank, 2009, 2l～22．
Munzer, S.R. 2006. Plants, Torts, and Intellectual Property. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–30.
Porter, W.W. 2004. Multiple surveys of students and survey fatigue. In S. R. Porter (Ed.), Overcoming survey research problems: Vol. 121. New directions for institutional research (pp. 63-74). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Schubert, R. 2002. Schmeiser Wants to Take It to The Supreme Court, Crop Choice News.pp.32
Trochim, W.K. 2006. Research Methods Knowledge Base. Journal of Research Review. vol.22, .p.12
Witcombe, J.R. et al. 2008. Breeding for abiotic stresses for sustainable agriculture, pp. 703-716.
Appendix A: Research Methods Questionnaire
- Are you a citizen of the European Union? If not, please clearly state your country of origin
- Are you aware of what a Genetically Engineered Crop is?
Yes__ No__ Unsure__
- How good is your understanding of Genetically Engineered crops? Please give answer on a scale of 0 to 7. 0= No Understanding. 7= Full Understanding.
- How far do you believe you have an awareness of the public perceptions regarding Genetically Engineered Crops? Please give answer on a scale of 0 to 7.
0= No Understanding. 7= Full Understanding.
- ‘Genetically Engineered Crops are often perceived as an example of scientists meddling with nature’. How far do you agree or disagree with this perception?
Strongly Disagree__ Disagree__ Neutral__ Agree__ Strongly Agree__
- Genetically Engineered Crops are often presented as important for poor agricultural land and a large proportion of cotton and grain grown in many countries is now from genetically modified stock’. How far do you agree with this perception of Genetically Engineered Crops?
Strongly Disagree__ Disagree__ Neutral__ Agree__ Strongly Agree__
- How can it be that Genetically Engineered crops are often perceived as an example of scientists meddling with nature on one hand and on the other hand it is presented as important for agricultural land?
Appendix B: Interview structure
Below is a basic layout for interviews. The questions below are those which we intend to obtain answers for, however, personal interviews are respondent and this will obviously some of the questions that you ask, and the way in which your interview is conducted.
FIRSTLY- YOU MUST GIVE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE PURPOSE OF THIS INTERVIEW AND ALSO A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS.
First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to conduct this interview with you. Before we begin, I would like to point out that the information given during this interview will remain confidential between the group and yourself, and that you are free to stop the interview at any time should you so wish. Could you confirm for the purposes of the interview, that I have your permission to record this interview? I will happily provide you with a copy of the interview if you would like one. Do you have any questions to ask me before I begin the interview?
First of all, let me briefly explain the purpose of conducting this interview, and introduce you to the subject of Genetically Engineered crops. Other group members and I are conducting these interviews in order to research what Msc student’s perceptions are regarding the differences in perception of Genetically Engineered crops.
A Genetically Engineered crop is a crop derived from a ‘Genetically Modified Organism’- this is basically an organism which has had changes made to its DNA, either by inserting or removing genes. Worldwide attitudes towards GM crops have been mixed, with some people being strongly supportive of them, and others totally against. Reasons for this have ranged from ecological, environmental, health and governmental, amongst other.
- First of all, could I just ask you, to what extent are you actually aware yourself of what a Genetically Engineered crop is?
- Are you in agreement with the production of Genetically Engineered crops?
- Could you briefly explain to me what the attitudes towards Genetically Engineered crops are within your own country?
- Could you explain to me your own views on the matter?
- ‘Genetically engineered crops are often perceived as an example of scientists meddling with nature’. ‘Genetically modified crops have also been presented as important for poor agricultural land;. What do you make of these two differences in perception?
- Do you have any further questions or views that you would like to share on the matter?
Appendix E (Double Tap the sheet)