Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-29-2019


This dissertation is a qualitative content analysis of the ongoing online debate on Twitter regarding the AquAdvantage Salmon™, the first genetically engineered animal, fish, and meat product approved by the FDA for sale and consumption in the US. On Twitter, Topics can be discussed by any account user creating a public sphere and forum of discussion. In a time when the anthropogenic impacts on the environment are observable and at times detrimental, it remains in question how we will produce our food; this study problematizes whether or not genetic engineering is the solution and the future of our food, and ultimately questions human mastery rhetoric. Qualitative content analysis was used to assess who the active stakeholder groups are in the conversation on Twitter, their goals and objectives, the sentiment of their messages, the type of conversation (original, conversational, or disseminative), the sentiment of attached links, the sentiment of any embedded visual content; and message themes. Findings indicated the active stakeholder groups on Twitter are: the producers of AA salmon; public citizens; scientists; organizations; news media; food and agriculture groups; yet, policy makers, like the FDA, entrusted with making laws surrounding AquAdvantage Salmon™ are absent from the discussion. The salmon itself does not have a voice in the Twitter conversation and is presented as a commodity to be sold or as a stock for monetary gain, a solution to food insecurity, or a blasphemous “Frankenfish”.


AquAdvantage Salmon, Genetically Engineered, Salmon, Sustainable Aquaculture, Twitter

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tamar Ginossar

Second Committee Member

Christina Perry

Third Committee Member

Tema Milstein

Fourth Committee Member

Kathy Isaacson