Attitudes to Bioethics and Biotechnology in Thailand (1993-2000), and Impacts on Employment

 
- Chalobon Kachonpadungkitti and Darryl Macer,

Master's Program in Environmental Sciences,

University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba Science City 305-8572, Japan

(C.K. is an officer of the Thailand Department of Employment).

Email: kchalobon@hotmail.com, asianbioethics@yahoo.co.nz

 

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 14 (2004), 118-134.

 

 

Abstract

This paper compares the opinions that people in Thailand have on the impact of bioethics and biotechnology in the year 2000 with 1993. During the year 2000 sampling was conducted upon a relatively well educated public group, and on university students, and the open comments that explore the reasoning people have were translated into English and analyzed. A total of 214 public and 84 university respondent questionnaires were gathered to compare with the 689 public and 232 student respondents in 1993.

In the year 2000 there was less optimism in science and technology than 1993. In questions on the specific application of technology more persons expressed greater worry for pesticides, genetic engineering and computers. The results of questions on specific applications on genetics reveal that there has been a halving of the support for gene transfer from plant to plant, and even greater drop in support for animal to plants. There has been a drop in approval of environmental release of GMOs, as also found in other countries of the world. There was a doubling of the persons who said that television was the source of their feelings about science and technology in 2000 compared to 1993.  There was also increased mention of learning about these issues in their education.

 

Introduction

Thailand has a population of over 60 million people with an average per capita income of around US$1500 per annum. Most Thai people are aware and experience the 'globalisation' of communication and trading, and new sciences and technologies are known to many of them. Thailand is a strongly Buddhist country, with rising living standards and a rapidly developing economy. The vitality of the Buddhist faith also does much to bridge social gaps, such as prevail between city and countryside. It is therefore of particular interest to see how attitudes bioethical dilemmas have changed over the 1990s.

Recognizing the potential of biotechnology to affect a broad spectrum of industries, the government of Thailand has placed increased emphasis on the technology over the last few decades. Today, the opportunities for utilization of biotechnology in public and business sectors are expected to grow at the fast pace during the next decade.

Nowadays Thailand faces many environmental problems, for example, deforestation has become a serious problem in many parts of country. Over half of Thai forests have been destroyed by indiscriminate cutting of timber, both by slash and burn farmers and by poachers. About 20% of forests are remaining. The deforestation in Thailand has four direct causes; slash and burn cultivation by a growing of landless migrant poor; conversion of forests to cattle pastureland; wasteful and unsustainable commercial logging; and over harvesting of subsistence fuelwood and fodder.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the environmental ethics of biotechnology is the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the environment.  This is because it may have an adverse effect on human health or some part of the ecosystem like biological diversity.  GMOs include food, animal feed, seeds, and flowers, for example. Thailand is an agricultural country, most Thai people in rural areas depend on agricultural productivity. They have used chemical pesticides and intensive agriculture, but recently a consumer-led movement has promoted the use of non-chemical pesticides in plants. 

Thailand has followed the international trends in developing biosafety guidelines that apply to all biotechnology research and development in the country, and to the introduction of biotechnology products into the country. The lack of law enforcement and proper infrastructures are issues raised by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NCGEB, 1999). While they claim that these issues were addressed and prepared for since the early period of the formulation of the guidelines in the 1990s, in contrast, new challenges recently came up, associated with a growing public debate around GMOs and their socioeconomic implications.

One of the important aspects of this broad socioeconomic debate is trade. Thailand is the world leader in the export of rice, cassava products, canned pineapple, canned baby corn, and ornamental cut flowers such as orchids (NCGEB, 1999). It also ranks among the top in the production of tropical fruits, rubber and palm oil. Since the EU, one of Thailand’s biggest trade partners, has adopted labeling regulation on GMO food products and raw materials, export industries have been greatly affected. For example, Thailand’s canned tuna was once banned in Egypt upon suspicion of using oil produced from GM soya beans.

A second important aspects of this broad socioeconomic debate is labeling and segregation of GM seeds. The Plant Quarantine Act states that all transgenic plants (40 are listed, processed foods not included) are prohibited from entry into the country, unless permission is granted by the Director General of Department of Agriculture (DOA), and only for experimental purposes. However, the majority of soybean and maize imported into the country are from the USA and Argentina, the main producers of GM crops. Under the current situation, the import of these crops as grain for food and feed processing have been conducted as routine with neither awareness nor capability of segregation. The Food and Drug Administration of Thailand enforces GMO product labeling since 2001.

Public interest and concern over GMO issues have been growing rapidly and are now on the national agenda. Several NGOs started arguing to the public and farmers about the threat of domination by multinationals, the risk of losing indigenous species through unintended gene flow and adverse effects to non-target organisms after field release. These concerns are typical of international NGOs, like Greenpeace. As a result, the commercial release of Bt cotton (already passed the regulations) has been suspended for political reasons.

Most countries, especially developing countries now face the challenging prospect of developing institutional arrangements to identify and manage the risks associated with biotechnology. Thailand lacks funding for research in general so one must ask whether sufficient resources will be spent on safety assessment.  The lack of resources has been said to be a reason for poor management of natural resources.  This leads to concerns over the ability of Thailand to use biotechnology to meet  its needs, and we should focus on devising strategies to optimize the benefits of the biotechnology revolution.

Internationally there has been widespread debate over GMOs (Gaskell et al., 200; Macer and Ng, 2000). Genetic modification techniques are the subject of intense debate in the year 2001 in Thailand, with a ban on release of Starlink Bt corn made on 3 April, 2001. Concerned about the potential effects of GMO on Thai products, the government issued a ban on the import of Starlink Bt corn from the US which is believed to contain GMO. Importation is allowed only in case when There is a certification from the country of origin is to be imported, that the product is GMO-free.

More recently, Egypt banned import of canned tuna from Thailand in May, 2000 due to unsubstantial claimed that the canned tuna imported from Thai contained GM soy bean oil.  The GM soybean oil is reportedly derived from US soybeans. The dispute was resolved without recourse to the international court of WTO to take effect when Thai and Egypt will sign, the Memorandum of understanding (MOU) under WTO while a law is developed in Thailand. Thai regulations enacted in 2000 allows GM plants only for research, not for commercial release .

Experience suggests that GMOs are not well known among the people who live in the country site. Even people who live in the city seem to have little knowledge about GMOs, and they cannot understand these well. However, in the 1993 survey in Thailand, 86% of respondents said they were  aware that GMOs were being used to produce foodstuffs and they did not express much concern about food or medicine made from GMOs (Srinives et al. 1994). This survey had a high number of educated respondents however, so it may not represent the views of the general public. There is a need to examine what more ordinary citizens feel, and whether knowledge has changed between 1993 and 2000.

The perception of the problem varies among environmental issues, trade issues, ethical issues, health issues and long term self-sufficiency issues. Moreover, even if people are familiar with the term GMOs, most people don’t know its real meaning and are ignorant of the basic science of genes.  Such variety shows the confusion caused by this new technology and the gap that has to be filled by the scientific community. Also, the reliability of the governments’ risk management capability is another important aspect. More often than not, insensitive comments are made by senior public figures showing their lack of genuine concern over the issue, which inevitably provokes furious reaction from the mass media.

The mass media is the important factor as a means to educate the general public. Especially newspapers and television are found to be important sources of information in countries that have been surveyed (Macer, 1994).

Biotechnology companies should take more responsibility for protecting the environment, rather than just ensuring that the new biotechnology strains of agriculture foodstuffs are safe.  The  government and media should recognize the importance of biodiversity  and  the need for carrying all species through the problems of overpopulation and environmental degradation. Referring to the impact of GMOs on human health, we first need to identify what the risks are. We need proper organization of a consultative process to test transgenic food products for safety.  There are important roles to be played by NGOs and other segments of civil society regarding biotechnology.  The public understanding of GMOs is important to disseminate information about GMOs, goods and products by the companies or institutions that research and produce them.

    However, the positive way of biotechnology is expected to bring important advances in medical diagnosis and therapy, in solving food problems, in energy saving, in environmentally compatible industrial and agricultural production, and in specially targeted environmental protection projects. Genetically bio-filters and wastewater treatment facilities, and the clean-up of polluted sites are also important environmental applications. Genetically modified organisms can also alleviate environmental burdens by reducing the need for pesticides, fertilizers, and medications.  It will be interesting to see what sorts of benefits people can think of through the use of the survey.

 

2. Methods

The International Bioethics Survey conducted by Macer and Srinives in 1993 in Thailand, was used as a basis to develop a new questionnaire to allow a picture of the reasoning of Thai people towards biotechnology. We can also compare this to changes over the same period in Japan (Macer, 1994; Ng et al. 2000).  Because of particular interest in the perceptions of people towards the economic impact of environmental concerns, several questions on this were included in the survey.

The questionnaires were translated into Thai language consisting of 6 A4 size pages including a half page introductory letter. The questionnaire included 125 questions in total, with 35 open-ended questions. Many questions were extracted, or based upon, questions used in the International Bioethics Survey, or earlier surveys (Macer, 1994). There were two new specific open questions (Q17,Q21)  looking at the reasoning regarding the environment and employment concerns.  The open question were designed to look at how people make decisions; and the ideas in each comment were assigned to different categories depending on the questions.

In order to investigate the opinions two groups in society have towards these issues, opinion surveys were conducted on the public and students. The questionnaires where all the questions answered were used for this study. Open comments were placed into categories using the method of Macer (1992, 1994), and these categories were compared between student and public samples in 2000, and with the 1993 survey results (Srinives et al., 1994). 

 

Table 1: Sample Characteristics of the 1993 and 2000 Thai survey respondents

%

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

N

214

689

84

232

Female

72.3

52

77.8

58

Mean age (yr)

37.2

37.2

21.5

21.3

Urban

79.6

54

53.7

58

Religion

None

0.9

0.2

0

0.4

Christian

1.9

0.4

2.4

1.7

Moslem

1.4

0.6

0

0.4

Buddhist

95.8

99.0

96.4

97.0

In your daily life, do you consider religion to be...?

Very important

45.5

46

54.2

54

Somewhat

44.5

44

37.3

38

No too

8.1

8

6

7

Not  at all

1.9

2

2.4

0.4

Marital status

Single

51.2

38

98.8

99

Married

46.9

59

1.2

0.4

Divorced

1.9

3

0

0.6

Children:

None

34.5

22

58.3

96

pregnant

2.7

2

0

0

one

32.7

24

16.7

2

two

23.6

39

16.7

2

more

6.4

13

8.3

0

Education

High school

1

2

2.5

4

Two yr college

4.8

3

1.2

18

Univ. graduate

61.2

35

83.8

60

Postgraduate

29.7

59

8.8

13

Other

3.3

1

3.8

5

 

3. Sample characteristics

A total of 500 questionnaires were distributed, 300 for a relatively well educated public population (mainly university graduates), and 200 for university students, of whom more than half were biology students, were distributed in August 2000 in Thailand. Overall 60% were returned, with 214 from the general public and 84 students. The sample characteristics are presented in Table 1, with comparisons to the 1993 sample.  The 2000 public sample was predominantly urban (80%), and 69% were government workers, 22% were company officers, with some other occupations (Table 2).  There is a significantly lower percentage of researchers in the 2000 sample, because of the distribution of the surveys.  In 1993 some questionnaires were distributed in an academic association to supplement the public sample.  In 2000 the questionnaires were distributed predominantly to government departments and a company.

There is no significant difference between the public and student samples in 2000 with 72-78% female and 96% Buddhist, however there are significantly less males than in the 1993 survey. In the 2000 public sample 51% were single and 35% had no children, but in the 1993 sample 38% were single with 22% having no children.  The average age is the same, 37 years, in both samples.  There are several possible reasons for the decreased proportion of married persons with children in the 2000 sample compared to 1993.  One is that the survey respondents are predominantly working, so it may be more difficult for a women to have a child and be married while still working. Another may be social trends to delay the age of marriage and child bearing. Another reason may be 80% of the 2000 respondents were urban, compared to 54% in 1993.  The pace of life in the rural areas is slower with more time to spare than urban dwellers in Bangkok, who have to spend long times commuting due to traffic jams.  The educational levels were similar, and as in the 1993 sample, most were university graduates, with 25% being postgraduates.

 

Table 2: Occupation of the public respondents

%

P2000

P1993

Government

69.4

60.2

Company

21.8

8.1

University/Research

1.5

17.4

Housewife

0

1.3

Retired

1

0

Farmer

0

0.3

Teacher

1.5

10.6

Administration

0

0.2

Self employed

0.5

0.4

Arts

0

0

Counselor

0

0.2

Engineer

0

0.2

Medical

0

0

Unemployed

0

0.2

Not stated

3.9

14.9

 

4. Attitudes to the environmental concerns

In Q2 we can see there is an increase in agreement with a variety of environmental concerns, and self-reported behaviour related to health or environmental concerns (Table 3).  We can also see this in some other questions in the survey.   In Q2a. when asked “ in during the past 12 months have you bought foods labeled as “pesticide free” 74% of the public in the year 2000 said yes, compared to 47% in 1993, and there is a similar increase with 59% of students saying they had bought such food  in 2000 compared to 40% in 1993. A drop of support in both groups for Q2b represents concern about the environment but increase in Q2a, which is on the perceived health risk to oneself or family, suggests the pesticide issue rather than environment in general is what people are concerned about. Consistent with this, there is also less support for giving money to environmental causes (Q2c).

There is increasing recycling activity. In Q2f people were asked whether they had sorted out certain types of household waste (glass, papers,..) for recycling.  This was a 19% increase, with 77% public in 2000 compared to 58% in 1993 and 70% student in 2000 compared to 52% in 1993.  As in the 1993 survey almost all people tried to save energy. This result shows that most Thai people,

 

Table 3: Environmental behaviour (%)

Q2

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

a. Bought foods labeled as "pesticide free"

Yes

74.5

47

48.8

40

No

13.2

28

27.4

23

DK

12.3

25

23.8

37

b. Stopped buying a product because it caused environmental problems

Yes

71.6

77

67.9

69

No

14.7

15

17.9

17

DK

13.7

8

14.3

14

c. Contributed money or time to an environmental cause

Yes

69

75

58.5

56

No

27.2

21

36.6

35

DK

3.8

4

4.9

9

d. Changed your life style in significant ways to protect the environment

Yes

84.9

79

75.9

79

No

11.9

16

19.3

16

DK

3.3

5

4.8

5

e. Stopped eating a certain food because of concerns over its safety

Yes

90.1

85

81

83

No

6.6

11

15.5

14

DK

3.3

4

3.6

3

f. Sorted out certain types of household waste (glass, papers, ...) for recycling

Yes

77.9

58

70.2

52

No

20.7

39

28.6

41

DK

1.4

3

1.2

7

g. Saved energy, for example, by using less hot water, by closing doors and windows in winter to save heat

Yes

98.6

97

95.2

95

No

.9

3

3.6

5

DK

.5

0.3

1.2

0

 

5. Attitudes to science and technology

In question 3, when asked “overall do you think science and technology do more harm than good, more good than harm, or about the same of each?”, 47% said more good in 2000, compared to 54% in 1993; with 4% saying more harm compared to 3% in 1993. However, 43% of the student’s sample said more good than harm in 2000 compared to 32% in 1993, with 8% said more harm compared to 4% in 1993 (Table 5). 

In the question (Q4) asking how much persons had heard of several areas of science and technology, we see that the 2000 sample did have a higher self-indicated knowledge of science and technology with the exception of computers (Table  6).

Table 7 shows the perception of benefits and the worries about 6 areas of science and technology. The reasons were examined by analysis of the open comments into categories, and these are presented in Table 8.  

The attitudes towards IVF and computers were the same, with some drop in support for biotechnology.  Especially, they had a positive view about computers, with around 98% of both groups perceiving benefits, similar to respondents in 1993. They also had a positive view towards in vitro fertilization (IVF), with benefits being perceived by 75% of the public and 79% of the students, but there is some drop from 1993, with 6% drop in public and 5% student. The reason for the support to cure a disease to someone who can not be pregnant or can not give birth by nature. But there is a 19% public decline in the proportion who see benefits from pesticides in 2000, however there is a 13% decrease in the proportion of students who said that they were worried about pesticides in Q6. From the open comments, it can be observed that most Thai people now prefer a so-called "natural" method of production, particularly for plants that we are able to find in supermarkets or non-chemical shops.  It is very popular for people who live in Bangkok to buy products with an organic label, which are more expensive than general products. 

 

Table 4: General questions on science and technology issues

Q1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

%

Agree strongly

Agree

Neither

Disagree

Disagree strongly

a. Science makes an important contribution to the quality of life.

P2000

51.9

43

3.7

.5

.9

P1993

59

40

1

0.4

0

S2000

63.1

34.5

1.2

1.2

0

S1993

59

40

1

0.3

0

b. Most problems can be solved by applying more and better technology.

P 2000

7.1

37.9

18.4

34.1

2.4

P1993

8

39

14

37

2

S2000

9.5

41.7

15.5

33.3

0

S1993

9

41

16

31

3

c. The natural environment has a valuable property that humans should not tamper with.

P 2000

15.6

36.8

5.2

39.6

2.8

P1993

23

33

11

32

1

S2000

15.9

45.1

9.8

25.6

3.7

S1993

16

35

7

39

3

d. Genetically modified plants and animals will help agriculture become less dependent  on chemical pesticides.

P 2000

5.9

36.6

25.9

24.9

6.8

P1993

18

51

15

13

3

S2000

7.4

44.4

14.8

28.4

4.9

S1993

13

52

17

15

3

e. A woman can abort a 4 month old fetus.  

P 2000

3.3

12.6

19.2

44.4

20.6

P1993

3

14

17

39

27

S2000

2.4

8.3

10.7

42.9

35.7

S1993

3

10

19

50

38

f. A woman can abort a 4 month old fetus that has congenital abnormalities.

P 2000

26.6

46.3

13.6

8.4

5.1

P1993

35

44

9

8

4

S2000

17.9

50

7.1

19

6

S1993

25

46

12

11

6

g.  A married couple can use a surrogate mother and in vitro fertilisation if they cannot get pregnant themselves.

P 2000

8.6

45.2

26.2

17.1

2.9

P1993

18

55

18

7

2

S2000

10.7

53.6

26.2

6

3.6

S1993

21

55

17

5

2

h.Animals have rights that people should not violate.

P2000

29.4

54.7

11.2

3.7

.9

P1993

32

50

11

6

1

S2000

20.5

59

14.5

4.8

1.2

S1993

48

42

6

3

1

 

Table 5: Outlook on science

Q3.  Overall do you think science and technology do more harm than good, more good than harm, or about the same of each?

%

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

More harm

4.4

3

8.3

4

More good

47.3

54

42.9

32

Same

45.3

42

48.8

64

Don't know

2.9

1

0

0

Table 6: Awareness of science and technology areas

Q4.      Can you tell me how much you have heard or read about each of these subjects?

%

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

a. Agricultural Pesticides

Not heard of

0

0

0

0

Heard of

63.8

34

61.4

59

Could explain

36.2

66

38.6

41

b. In vitro fertilisation

Not heard of

.9

0

1.2

2

Heard of

74.2

67

80.7

81

Could explain

24.9

33

18.1

17

c. Computers

Not heard of

0

0.2

0

0

Heard of

51.2

57

65.5

71

Could explain

48.8

43

34.5

29

d. Biotechnology

Not heard of

5.7

2

1.2

6

Heard of

66.8

57

50.6

71

Could explain

27.5

41

48.2

23

e. AIDS

Not heard of

0

0

0

0

Heard of

44.6

34

35.4

37

Could explain

55.4

66

64.6

63

f. Human Gene Therapy

Not heard of

10.8

10

3.6

15

Heard of

72.3

70

77.1

71

Could explain

16.9

20

19.3

14

g. Genetic engineering

Not heard of

23.6

13

2.5

17

Heard of

59

58

69.1

63

Could explain

17.5

29

28.4

20

 

Table 7: Perceived benefits

Q5. Do you personally believe each of these scientific discoveries and developments is a worthwhile area for scientific research?  Why? (%)

Benefit

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

a  In vitro fertilisation

Yes

75.2

79

81

84

No

18

15

13.1

11

DK

6.8

6

6

5

b. Agricultural Pesticides

Yes

45.1

63

33.3

46

No

48.5

33

59.5

51

DK

6.3

4

7.1

3

c. Computers

Yes

99.5

98

97.6

98

No

0

1

1.2

1

DK

.5

1

1.2

1

d. Biotechnology

Yes

75.4

90

94

85

No

2.5

1

4.8

2

DK

22.2

9

1.2

13

e. Genetic engineering

Yes

46.1

77

61.4

71

No

14.6

5

24.1

5

DK

39.3

18

14.5

24

 

Most dramatically, genetic engineering, however, sees a drop of 30% in the perceived benefits by the public respondents from 77% in 1993 to 46% in the year 2000, and a 10% drop in the student samples from 71% to 61%. In the 2000 sample, with only 20% saying they have no worries in response to Q6, with a 20% decline. The reason for the worry was investigated in the open question. For the public, 13% had ethical concerns, or fear of unknown, rather than personal health concerns, but for the student more gave reasons as lack of control or ethical concerns. However, in the 1993 there are few worries about whether the application of technology can be controlled. In both samples the fear of unknown is another response to Q5 or Q6.

To illustrate the process of categorization some example comments for each of the categories shown in Table 8 are given below:

Economy

It will be beneficial for business. (P43)

It is necessary for economic development. (P95)

It can get increased production, economically but following ethics not against ethics. (P208)

Science

It can make various scientific progress. (P1,4)

For knowledge and development. (P35)

The discovery of science is important for studying and protecting high technology because we do not know how the future will be. (P209)

Medicine

It can help someone who cannot give birth by nature. (P1,19)

It can cure some diseases. (P7)

It can solve the birth problem. (P21)

It can solve and cure some genetic disease. (P99)

Food

It is important for human life because it can develop food and the environment. (P24)

To get food without insect if it was used in right way. (P97)

It can solve food, energy and environment problem. (P158)

Avoid shortages. (P178)

Agriculture

It can help increase production. (P28,34)

To get increase in agriculture. (P38,76)

It will be useful for agriculture. (P87)

Energy

It is modernized and saves energy. (P171)

Humanity helped

It can get convenient and rapid work. (P16,22)

It can get convenient, develop higher knowledge and quality of life. (P24)

Save labor and time. (P17,195)

To help human heritage (P75)

Communication will go throughout the world. (P160)

To solve the problem of shortages. (P188)

Increase human food. (P201)

Increased efficiency

We can get efficient as human being. (P9)

It can increase efficiency of works. (P39)

Increase rapidly and convenience. (P46)

It can get rid of pesticide. (P55)

It can help to conserve plant and animal genes. (P74)

Good for the Environment

To educate the environment. (P21)

To help conserve natural resources and get rid of some wastes. (P90)

To conserve nature. (P172)

Help if careful

It should be used carefully. (P8)

These are valuable but should be careful. (P17)

It can help but need to be carefully. (P58)

To help consumption but it should have been limited. (P96)

Bad for the Environment

It will damage and change the ecology. (P13)

There will be affects on the ecology systems. (P24)

It will cause effects on the environment. (P60)

It will lead to pollution to the environment. (P109)

Lack of controls

Someone will use it for privacy without ethics. (P135)

It might be an epidemic disease that cannot controlled. (P187)

Dangerous

It will be dangerous if it was used a lot. (P39)

It will make a poison. (P69)

It can make a dangerous living thing. (P96)

It might have chemical contaminate to consumers. (P148)

Playing God / Interferes with nature

It should be natural. (P11)

It will damage the balance of nature. (P27)

I don't want human interfere nature. (P34)

Health risk

It will be dangerous to human health. (P43)

It will be an affect to humans. (P68)

User should study side effects. (P85)

Waste

It is not necessary. (P29)

It should use a natural method. (P45)

Nature can get rid of  pesticide (P59)

It should stop or decrease using. (P66)

Fear of unknown

It will lead to being difficult to destroy. (P74)

I fear some genes that come with living thing. (S21)

Humanity changed

It can help develop the quality of life. (P81)

It makes a choice in the future. (P178)

It makes human get lazy. (S7)

It will be a good change. (S19)

 

Table 9: Concerns about applications of science and technology

Q6. Do you have any worries about the impact of research or its applications of these scientific discoveries and developments?  How much?   Why?

%

P2000

P1993

S2000

S1993

 a  In vitro fertilization

No

33.2

43

28.9

30

A few

38

32

48.2

50

Some

22

19

18.1

15

A lot

6.8

6

4.8

5

b. Agricultural Pesticides

No

12.3

14

9.6

5

A few

20.9

19

22.9

19

Some

32.7

37

32.5

42

A lot

34.1

30

34.9

34

c. Computers

No

49

64

41

63

A few

35.7

27

34.9

25

Some

12.4

7

15.7

9

A lot

2.9

2

8.4

3

d. Biotechnology

No

34.6

61

47.6

52

A few

31.8

30

35.4

37

Some

27

8

12.2

8

A lot

6.6

1

4.9

3

e. Genetic engineering

No

      20.2

42

13.4

37

A few

34.3

32

35.4

38

Some

28.3

19

31.7

19

A lot

17.2

7

19.5

6

To illustrate the process of categorization some example comments of the risks of the applications for each of the categories shown in Table 10 are given below:

Don't know

I don't know the facts so much. (P9)

It's a new subject that I couldn't understand. (P104)

I don't know the food that we eat is GMO. (P132)

Interferes with  Nature

It's not necessary to change things against nature. (P39

We should not change nature. (P81)

It's God duty. (P126)

Children should be born with nature. (P142)

Fear of unknown

In the long term we don't know about harm to babies. (P43)

It might create new diseases. (P203)

It might create new strength genes. (S27,S38)

Ethical

It's about ethics and morals. (P1,87)

Worry about using without ethics and do with dangerous experiment. (P97)

Ethics problem and confusion about humans. (P188)

It will cause an impact in the case of moral and ethics. (P113)

 


Table 8: Reasons for benefit perception

Q5. Do you personally believe each of these scientific discoveries and developments is a worthwhile area for scientific research?  Why?...

Public  %

IVF

Pesticides

Computers

Biotechnology

Gen. Eng.

 

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

Not stated

24.8

22.2

30.8

26.1

24.4

22.2

44.1

36.5

50.2

39.5

Economy

0

.4

.5

.9

.5

.6

1.9

3.1

.5

.9

Science

2.8

4.6

2.8

2

12.7

13.1

8.9

16.5

7

20.4

Medicine

53.3

51.6

0

.1

0

.2

.5

.6

.5

2.2

Agriculture/Food

0

0.5

10.3

16.9

0

.2

6.1

7.7

2.3

16.7

Energy

0

.1

0

0

0

.1

0

.4

0

.2

Humanity helped

.5

5.1

.5

2.4

.5

6.7

.5

10.9

0

4.9

Inc. efficiency

1.9

.6

5.6

.9

59.6

51.8

18.3

3.1

16.4

1

Good for Environment

0

.1

.9

.9

0

.1

6.1

13

.9

.6

Help if careful

0

2.2

6.5

16.6

.5

2.9

1.9

4.3

2.3

4.2

Bad for Environment

0

.6

14.5

14.4

1.4

0

1.9

.3

.9

.3

Lack of controls

.5

.5

1.4

3.8

0

.3

.5

.1

1.4

1.6

Dangerous/Health risk

0

0.6

12.1

10.5

0

0.4

0

.5

2.3

1.0

Play God/Unnatural

7.5

4.1

3.3

2.5

0

.2

.5

.3

3.3

1.1

Waste of Resources

4.7

3.1

8.4

1.3

0

.2

.9

.2

1.4

.6

Fear of unknown

2.3

1.5

2.3

.8

0

.1

7

2.2

10.3

4.6

Humanity changed

1.9

1.8

0

.1

.5

.8

.9

.1

0

.2

Student %

IVF

Pesticides

Computers

Biotechnology

Gen. Eng.

 

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

Not stated

21.4

13.8

17.9

14.7

14.3

11.2

21.7

31.0

23.8

33.3

Economy

1.2

0.5

0

1.3

1.2

0.7

1.2

2.6

0

1.1

Science

1.2

4.3

1.2

0.9

8.3

16.0

12

22.4

8.3

23.8

Medicine

65.5

67.2

0

.1

0

.2

0

0.4

3.6

2.2

Agriculture/Food

0

0.8

11.9

16.9

0

.2

4.8

8.1

3.6

20.3

Humanity helped

0

2.6

0

0.4

0

5.6

1.2

9.5

0

4.9

Inc. efficiency

2.4

0

8.3

1.7

72.6

60.8

37.3

2.6

36.9

0.9

Good for Environment

0

0.1

1.2

.9

0

.1

13.3

15.5

0

0.9

Help if careful

0

1.7

0

11.6

0

3.5

0

2.6

1.2

2.2

Bad for Environment

0

0.6

22.6

22.0

1.2

0

0

.3

1.2

.3

Lack of controls

0

0.5

2.4

5.2

1.2

.3

0

.1

2.4

1.6

Dangerous/Health risk

1.2

0.5

16.7

14.2

0

0.4

1.2

0.9

0

1.0

Play God/unnatural

2.4

3.0

0

4.3

0

.2

3.6

.4

6

0.9

Waste of resources

4.8

1.7

14.3

2.6

0

.2

1.2

0

3.6

0.9

Fear of unknown

0

1.5

3.6

.8

0

.1

0

2.2

8.3

4.6

Humanity changed

0

1.3

0

.1

1.2

1.3

2.4

.1

1.2

.2

Table 10: Reasons for worries about science and technology

Q6. Do you have any worries about the impact of research or its applications of these scientific discoveries and developments?  How much?   Why?..

Public %

IVF

Pesticides

Computers

Biotechnology

Gen. Eng.

 

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

Not stated

48.1

36.4

44.9

32.3

49.1

41.4

50

46.6

50.5

43

Don't know

1.9

2.3

1.4

.8

.5

1.3

8.9

4

12.9

6.9

Interfere Nature

5.1

3.9

.9

.5

0

.5

2.3

.7

3.8

1.8

Fear of unknown

2.3

4.2

2.3

2

.9

2.5

5.6

3.8

4.3

7.7

Ethical

12.6

5.2

7

.2

10.3

.8

7

.2

13.3

1

Humanity changed

4.2

8.7

.5

.1

6.1

9.9

1.9

.8

1.9

.3

Lack of controls

1.9

1.6

2.3

4.9

6.1

1.4

.9

2.6

2.4

3.8

Health risk

2.8

4.9

4.7

6.4

1.4

3.3

.9

1

1

1.8

Disaster

0

1

15.4

16.9

0

1.3

1.9

1.5

1.9

2.3

Ecology

.5

.3

10.3

17.8

.9

.3

3.7

2.8

2.9

3

Waste

5.1

1.2

4.2

.4

1.4

0

2.3

.4

2.4

.8

Misuse

1.4

3.2

2.3

10.4

3.7

5.2

3.3

5

0

5.9

Eugenics

.9

5.4

0

.1

0

0

0

.4

0

2.9

OK if controlled

13.1

21.6

3.7

7.2

19.6

32.1

11.2

30.1

2.9

18.9

Student %

IVF

Pesticides

Computers

Biotechnology

Gen. Eng.

 

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

2000

1993

Not stated

36.1

230

25.9

230

33.7

229

31.3

230

31.7

34.4

Don't know

2.4

25.2

0

20.9

0

28.0

2.4

36.5

1.2

10.4

Interfere Nature

2.4

2.2

1.2

1.3

0

1.3

3.6

5.7

3.7

1.7

Fear of unknown

2.4

2.6

1.2

0.4

1.2

0

1.2

0

4.9

5.2

Ethical

8.4

4.4

2.5

1.3

9.6

1.3

6

3.0

12.2

0.9

Humanity changed

6

3.5

1.2

0

12

0.4

1.2

0

1.2

0.4

Lack of controls

6

15.7

2.5

4.4

13.3

16.6

7.2

0.9

18.3

6.5

Health risk