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Public perception of biotechnology hazards

Tait, J

Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology   43 (4) 363-372

January 1988   (First published online April 2007)

So far the public reaction to new biotechnology industries has been largely benign, at least in the UK, but it is questionable how deeply held and how stable this attitude is. Biotechnology has some features in common with classic risk related issues, like nuclear power and pesticides, and could provoke an equally adverse public response.

This paper examines what we currently know about perceptions of biotechnology with the conclusion that the public has yet to make up its mind. Factors that could influence the future public response include: rural social disruption caused by further increases in the productivity of agricultural land; any failure to control the new technology effectively, leading to a loss of public trust in the regulatory system; and intrinsic moral and ethical issues surrounding genetic manipulation, particularly in higher animals.