Elements of Public Trust in the American Food System

Abstract: The increasing scientific and technical complexity in the American system of food production, exemplified in this article by genetically modified food (GMF), provides a useful case with which to understand public trust in experts and organizations involved in an emerging technology. Stating that the public will judge claims about GMF based on trust in their sources brings about the question of how the public decides to trust particular sources. I use data from a mail survey to evaluate the elements of trust for a range of groups connected to the U.S. food industry. The results point to organizationally variable and dependent perceptions of trust rather than a stable set of elements, suggesting that scholars might focus productively on the ways elements of trust are distributed.

Citation: Lang, John T. 2013. “Elements of Public Trust in the American Food System: Experts, Organizations, and Genetically Modified Food.” Food Policy 41: 145-154.

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