From fear to a constructive dialogue
How the public perceives biotech
Weinheim, September 04, 2007 - The term "biotechnology" elicits a range of emotions, from wonder and awe to fear and hostility. Alan McHughen from the University of California in Riverside (CA, USA) now reviews at large the current state public knowledge of biotech, popular misperceptions, scientific illiteracy and the role of the media. How is coexistence dealt with in the US and Europe" Who benefits from agricultural biotech – only big companies or also the society at large" In the public interest, who is best suited to provide advice to weary consumers"
Find these answers in the latest issue of Biotechnology Journal, devoted to "Talking Biotech with the Public" which will be entirely FREE for download during the month of September 2007, at www.biotechnology-journal.com. In this way the publisher Wiley-Blackwell wants to show its commitment to an open public dialogue. The BTJ issue features Forum and Scientific Articles on science communication, biosafety and public perception of biotechnology and GMOs. Moreover, a free Podcast will be broadcast on September 14, 2007, and features interviews with science communication experts and a humoristic Audio Play of a Journalist-Scientist interview provided by EMBO Science and Society. Download the free podcast: www.podcast.biotechnology-journal.com.
Alan McHughen claims that academics have to get more engaged in public education and social empowerment. The public might in part not be interested in being taught details of molecular biology, but may be willing to learn critical thinking skills to face all controversial issues in our increasingly complex modern world. "Biotechnology is not new in this regard" said McHughen, "everything from automobiles to barbeques warrants appropriate experts working in the public interest to assure safety".
A rational public debate, discussing risks and benefits of (agricultural) biotechnology should be installed. The BTJ special issue "Talking Biotech with the Public" is fully devoted to this topic and provides a wealth of information and guidelines to both researchers and interested lay people.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd. September 2007.
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