Project news

March 31, 2011

Eurobarometer Report finds Europeans largely unaware of synthetic biology

European public still wary of genetically engineered food

The European Commission’s Public Opinion Analysis sector has found that the European public is divided in their optimism about biotechnology and genetic engineering. In its latest Eurobarometer Biotechnology Report, conducted by TNS Opinion & Social in Brussels on request of the European Commission, researchers found that people in EU member countries:

  • Are not aware of synthetic biology: only 17% of Europeans have heard of the science. The level of acceptance is correspondingly low.
  • Feel that decisions about synthetic biology should be left to scientific experts but that strong regulation by government is necessary.
  • Do not see benefits of genetically modified food, consider genetically modified foods to be probably unsafe or even harmful and are not in favor of development of genetically modified food.
  • Do not see the benefits of horizontal gene transfer, have strong reservations about safety, feel that special labeling of food products is necessary, and do not feel that it should be encouraged.
  • Approve of stem cell research, transgenic animal research and human gene therapy, although strict laws are needed to alleviate concern about ethical issues
  • Feel that biofuels should be encouraged and that development of sustainable biofuels is overwhelmingly supported.

To read more about European views of emerging technologies, click here to download the Special Eurobarometer report on biotechnology.