Biotechnologies: Democracy and Governance of Innovation

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Italians are getting more and more skeptical towards GMOs (68% of respondents considers them unsafe, compared to 49% in 2001), but more than one out of two (57%) believes that research on agricultural biotechnologies should be continued.

Lack of confidence is growing towards GM food: two italians out of three (68% compared to 49% in 2001) believe that genetical modification of fruits and vegetables is unsafe, while more than the half of respondents think that there’s no use in it (62%).

However, the majority of respondents support the continuation of research in the field of agricultural biotechnologies. Two are the main reasons given by respondents: the opportunity to solve the world hunger problem – pointed out by 46,9% of those who agree that we need more research in this field – and the need not to obstacle science progress (37,3%).

While Italians grew more skeptical attitude towards GMOs, they continue to express a remarkable openness with regard to biotechnologies in the medical field. Even if such also applications are recognized as risky (65% of respondents consider xenotransplants dangerous), they are considered without any doubt more useful than GMOs. 71% of Italians, for example, consider useful to resort to human embryios in the attempt to cure diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson, while 84% says that it is important continuing research on medical biotechnologies in Italy.

These are some of the most relevant results of the most recent survey on ‘Biotechnologies and public opinion in Italy‘, the result of cooperation between the research centre Observa – Science and Society – and Fondazione Giannino Bassetti carried out under the scientific supervision of Federico Neresini (Padua University), Massimiano Bucchi (Trento University) and Giuseppe Pellegrini (Padua University).

This third edition of the survey is focused on the theme ‘Biotechnologies, democracy and the governance of innovation ‘. The main aims are to continume monitoring Italia public opinion attitudes and try to understand more in depth the dynamics, motivations and cultural issues that count for the process of shaping of perceptions and attitudes towards biotechnologies.

For the first time elements such as the religious affiliation of respondents, their political orientation, their level of their technical-scientific education and their relationship with alternative medical therapies and natural products are considered.

The survey was carried out through telephone interviews on a sample of 994 people, representative of Italian population aged more than 19years.


Second Survey on Biotechnologies and Public Opinion in Italy: Download a Synopsis of Results (PDF), ca. 300 KB)

First Survey on Biotechnologies and Public Opinion in Italy (2000): Download a Synopsis of Results (PDF)

Biotech remains unloved by the more informed by Bucchi and Neresini; from Nature , vol. 416, 21 march 2002, p.261

Why are people hostile to biotechnologies? Article by Bucchi e Neresini published on Science in 2004

Biotecnologie: davvero gli italiani sono contrari? by Bucchi, from Quark magazine, October 2004.