GMO foods: few would buy them, even if they cost less and had more flavour. Six Italians in ten do not even think the fight against world hunger is sufficient reason for accepting the risks of research. All clear from 50% of those interviewed for genetic modification of animals to create transplant organs.
There is scant information on biotechnology. But the level of knowledge has little influence on public opinion regarding the use, risks and moral acceptability of the new applications.
The application of biotechnologies to foods still has clear opposition in Italy. Only one Italian in five would prefer foods produced with genetically modified organisms, even if they had more flavour than those currently available, and only one in ten would buy GMO foods, even if they cost less than traditional ones. 60% do not even think the fight against world hunger justifies the risks of research in this sector. In the case of applications in the medical field, the risks are partially balanced by the potential benefits, such as in the case of xeno-transplants (48% think it useful to insert human genes into animals to produce organs for transplant). Cloning for reproductive purposes is an exception: only 24% think it useful and more than 70% consider it risky (80% think it is also morally unacceptable).
These are some of the more significant results emerging from the second survey of ‘Biotechnologies and public opinion in Italy’, the result of cooperation between the Fondazione Giannino Bassetti and Poster research centre, carried out under the scientific supervision of Federico Neresini (Padua University), Massimiano Bucchi (Trento University) and Giuseppe Pellegrini (Padua University). The study, analyses the orientation of public opinion on biotechnological research and its applications, with a particular focus on what Italians really know in this field, on the role of the media in scientific disclosure and on the subjects of the decision-making process and responsibility in the field of biotechnological innovation.
Biotech and Health ‘Yes to genetic testing, no to embryo research and cloning for reproductive purposes’
M. Bucchi e F. Neresini, “Biotech remains unloved by the more informed”, from Nature, vol. 416, 21 march 2002, p.261.