Previous posts addressed both nanovaccines and DNA robots and they hinted at public opinion concerning nanotechnology and synthetic biology. What is the public's opinion of these emerging technologies? A research report by the "Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies", Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, & Public Opinion answers this question from the perspective of the United States. The key findings are extracted below.
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1) While public awareness of synthetic biology remains lower than that of nanotechnology, the proportion of adults who say they have heard at least something about synthetic biology has more than doubled in the past year.
2) Among Americans who make an initial assessment of synthetic biology, the plurality think the risks and benefits will be about equal, and the remainder are divided evenly between benefits and risks. When potential risks and benefits of synthetic biology are outlined, however, the greatest shift in public opinion is toward risk.
3) Despite concern about the risks of synthetic biology, by 52% to 38% Americans think we should encourage the development of synthetic biofuels rather than discourage it.
4) The public has a strong appetite for more information about synthetic biology⎯an area of science that generates both excitement and concern.
5) The public desires more than just information, however. While federal government agencies that might oversee synthetic biology receive approval ratings lower than they were at the beginning of the decade, two-thirds of Americans agree that the federal government should regulate this research.