Biotechnologies and Public Opinion in Italy

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A large part (70%) of Italian citizens think that the media do not pay enough attention to biotechnologies and would like to receive information which is more suitable to their competences (47% consider their background as inadequate to follow the presentdebate on biotechnologies) and citizens-oriented (55% would like to be informed not so much through TV programs or newspapers but rather through a specific booklet or in public meetings with scientists).

The Ministry for Health is for 42% of Italian citizens the key institution to inform on biotechnologies, followed by the National Committee for Biosafety and Biotechnologies (16%), local authorities (Regions and Municipalities), the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Agriculture.

More in general, Italians consider University and Research Institutions as the most trustworthy source of information on biotechnologies (35%), followed by Consumers’ Associations (26%) Environmental Associations (15%).

These and other data are contained in the new survey Biotechnologies and Public Opinion in Italy, conducted by the Association Observa – Science in Society in cooperation with the National Committee for Biosafety and Biotechnologies, which was presented on 14th March 2005 at Palazzo Chigi in Rome, at the presence of Gianni Letta (Prime Minister’s Office), with speeches by Massimiano Bucchi (Università di Trento), Leonardo Santi (President of Italian Committee for Biotechnologies) and Piero Angela (one of the most famous Italian scientific journalist).

According to the survey, the majority of Italians continue to show a positive attitude toward medical biotechnologies: 92% think that the research in this field should be continued in view of possible therapeutic applications. In particular, 60% would give priority to stem cell research and studies oriented to the early diagnosis of genetic diseases. On the other hand, scepticism remains strong in the area of agricultural applications: two people out of three (66%) think that GM food is particularly dangerous, and more than a half consider them useless.

Still, more than one Italian over two is in favour of continuing research on agricultural biotechnologies (59%), provided decisions are shared at the European level (33% believe that the European Union should regulate this field) and more public involvement is achieved (20% think that decisions on biotechnologies should be taken by “all citizens”).

Download a synopsis of results (pdf format)

The complete report of the survey is available in Italian. Click here to read it (pdf format).

To see the press conference on the presentation of the survey that took place in Rome, 14th March 2005, Click here (Film on windows media player) or visit www.governo.it

The survey on “Biotecnologies and Public Opinion in Italy” has been conducted on a representative sample of 964 subjects, representative of Italian population aged more than 19 years, under the scientific supervision of Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento), Federico Neresini (University of Padua) and Giuseppe Pellegrini (University of Padua) in cooperation with Valeria Arzenton.