Innovation Seminar Series

Agriculture and the Tragedy of the Social Media Common: public perceptions and human behavior in a new information age

Presented by Dr. Cami Ryan, Social Sciences Lead, Regulatory Policy & Scientific Affairs, Monsanto Canada


Agriculture relies upon science and technology to meet demand in an efficient and sustainable manner. Unfortunately, technological advances can create uncertainties for the public. Uncertainties are further amplified through the transmission of distorted information circulated via the interconnected, fast-moving ‘trains’ of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. The result is staunch and vocal opposition to products of genetic engineering which has also affected the public image of agriculture more broadly. This presentation provides an overview of the complexities that the agriculture industry faces in today’s information rich world. We will also explore the role that human cognitive habits, risk perceptions, and other factors plays in driving public opinion, attitudes, and behaviours. Finally, we will discuss what this represents for us, as scholars, in terms of opportunities and challenges.