Ruth, T. K, Lamm, A. J., Rumble, J. N., & Ellis, J. D. (2017). Conversing about citrus greening: Extension’s role in educating about genetic modification science as a solution. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 34-49.


Extension agents across the nation will need to facilitate difficult conversations with the public if genetic modification (GM) science is used to combat citrus greening disease. This study used the innovation characteristics described by Rogers to explore if using GM science as a solution to citrus greening had diffused amongst US residents. An online survey was completed by 1,051 respondents across the US. Respondents were then classified into geographic regions. Demographic differences amongst respondents from the regions were identified; however, respondents from all regions had neutral perceptions of GM science’s compatibility, trialability, complexity, and observability. All regions aside from the West agreed there was a relative advantage to using GM science; the West neither agreed nor disagreed. The Midwest was the only region with half of respondents agreeing they would consume GM citrus. All diffusion characteristics aside from observability were predictors of GM citrus consumption, and when accounting for diffusion characteristics, the Midwest was less likely to consume GM products when compared to the Northeast. Recommendations are offered for how extension agents can develop educational programming tailored to the needs of their regions to aid consumers in making educated decisions about GM citrus in the future.

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