Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion

Date:
May 15, 2014
Source:
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program
Summary:
A new set of focus groups found continued low awareness of synthetic biology, as well as concerns about specific applications. The focus group discussions also reinforce earlier findings that specific applications impact people's hopes and anxieties around synthetic biology. For example, medical applications including disease cures gained the most support in the focus groups, while the biological production of chemicals and food additives received little to no support. Participants focused their concern on unforeseen, unintended consequences that might occur from synthetic biology.

The Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is releasing the results of a new set of focus groups, which find continued low awareness of synthetic biology among the general public.

Related Articles


The focus group results support the findings of a quantitative national poll conducted by Hart Research Associates in January 2013, which found just 23 percent of respondents reported they had heard a lot (6 percent) or some (17 percent) about synthetic biology.

The focus group discussions also reinforce earlier findings that specific applications impact people's hopes and anxieties around synthetic biology. For example, medical applications including disease cures gained the most support in the focus groups, while the biological production of chemicals and food additives received little to no support.

Participants focused their concern on unforeseen, unintended consequences that might occur from synthetic biology. There was a clear and strong desire to study and monitor the potential risks of synthetic biology, which may require a variety of organizations.

For the first time, the focus groups also sought opinions on neural engineering -- an area of science that uses engineering and brain science to build devices to support brain control of prosthetic or robotic devices in humans. In contrast to synthetic biology, participants in these sessions found few downsides to neural engineering applications that could help people with motor disabilities or who have lost a limb.

To the extent unease surfaced about neural engineering, participants were concerned about inequitable access to the technologies. There was little concern about the adverse consequences of neural engineering beyond the individual patient, unlike applications of synthetic biology, which participants feared could have much broader implications for society and the environment.

Because this is qualitative research among only a small number of individuals, the findings from these two focus groups cannot be generalized to represent the entire population of adults in the United States. Rather, these qualitative findings provide context for evaluating the 2013 survey findings and depth of understanding about how these audiences respond to these areas of science and their potential applications.

Further information: http://www.synbioproject.org/process/assets/files/6683/_draft/focusgroup_2014.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program. "Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123335.htm>.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program. (2014, May 15). Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123335.htm
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program. "Synthetic biology still in uncharted waters of public opinion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515123335.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins