Inderscience Publishers

Assessing quality, content, and accessibility of web information about plant biotechnology

The ability to obtain reliable information is critical for decision makers. We examined sources of information about plant biotechnology available on the internet to identify credible, high calibre websites. Google–based searches were performed using: 'plant biotechnology', 'plant genetic engineering', 'genetically modified organisms', 'GMO', 'living modified organisms' and 'LMO'. Lists of websites retrieved, frequency of use, and audience varied greatly depending on keyword. Quality of content as assessed by frequency of updates, subject depth, declaration of authorship, indication of source of information, credibility of source, and neutrality, differed significantly among websites. The majority of high quality sites had government, academic, or research affiliations, however these were less frequently retrieved among the top listed websites. To ensure accurate public awareness about plant biotechnology it is important that high quality sites are recommended by information providers, and that they utilise terminology most frequently used by the public.

Keywords: genetically modified organisms, GMO, living modified organisms, LMO, plant biotechnology, plant genetic engineering, internet search, keywords, reliable information, Google search, web information, web search, information quality, web content, information accessibility, information reliability, public awareness, information retrieval

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