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Public perceptions of agricultural biotechnologies in Europe - perception of biotechnology
|Organization name:Lancaster University|
Centre for the Study of Environmental Change
Bowland Tower East
Objective: This project aims to investigate the factors which influence public perceptions of the risks associated with genetically manipulated foods across European countries. Genetically manipulated foods are an important field of technological innovation and commercial growth in biotechnology, but there is uneven evidence of considerable, if ill defined, public anxiety about what may be involved in such unfamiliar though potentially beneficial new fields. This project has the aims: of identifying the contents and patterns of background factors which may affect public perceptions (such as views of the scope and responsiveness of the risk management-regulatory system, of the ethical acceptability of gene transfer from animals to plants, or of the industrialisation of food generally); of assisting the more clear and constructive public articulation of such concerns as may be found, so as to assist democratic robustness in innovation; and to facilitate analysis of the European policy implications of whatever variations are found in the play of such risk perceptions factors across the arena studied.
Achievements: The project will use qualitative methods (focus groups and interviews) combined with workshops with stakeholders, to identify background factors behind attitudes of lay public participants. The later will be selected according to criteria derived from general risk perceptions research, knowledge of GMOs-food issues, and from a small amount of existing specialist but localised research on public perceptions of GM foods, some of which was conducted in the UK by the main applicant, and in Germany by another partner. State of the art research in this field indicates the key importance of trust in shaping public concerns, but also that trust is a multi-dimensional variable which may be influenced by experience in adjacent issues (such as BSE) and other indirect factors (such as general experience of the accessibility, transparency and scope of the regulatory-advisory process in each country or in the EU as a whole). These factors and variations in them across the partner countries, will be explored.
The outputs of the project will be fresh insights into the less direct factors which influence public concerns and an exploration of the means through which better expression of such concerns could be assisted in the regulatory process, to the benefit of democratically robust, sustainable and effective technological choice and innovation.
These outputs will be disseminated through academic publications in the world-wide literature; but also through several means to user communities in government, industry and NGOs. These include user-workshops, publications in user-journals, presentations to user-meetings and personal roles with user-groups. The project team is experienced in these novel kinds of user-interactive research and dissemination whilst sustaining high standards in international research terms.
Programme Acronym: FP4-FAIR
Programme type:Fourth Framework Programme
Subprogramme Area:Ethical, legal and social aspects - ELSA
Contract type:No contract type
Subject index:Agriculture, Resources of the Sea, Fisheries, Food, Social Aspects, Legislation, Regulations
Record control number:45351