The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, with funding from Sciencewise, sought
to assess the public perception of Industrial Biotechnology.
The Sciencewise ERC provided £60,000 funding to the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) for a project to assess the public perception of Industrial Biotechnology (IB). IB is the application of bioscience (including genetically modified organisms) for the processing and production of chemicals, materials and energy.
The aim of the project was to assess and understand the public perception and values around IB. The key objectives for the work were to:
• Enable BERR, together with other relevant departments such as Defra to make better-informed decisions on policy for the uptake of IB.
• Test the water for a potentially larger cross-Government public communication exercise and public dialogue that would inform any refresh of the GM crop policy.
• Provide a mechanism whereby a broader group of NGOs could be drawn into the IB-IGT process.
• Create greater awareness of IB amongst the public and an understanding of likely concerns and drivers for renewable chemicals.
• Help to build public confidence in the Government’s use, management and regulation of science and technology.
• Draw out the wider relationship between IB and GM that could inform the Royal Society’s report on biological mechanisms for enhancing food crop production and work to take forward the Cabinet Office Study on the Future of Food and Food Policy.
The work involved deliberative Citizens’ Groups to allow for intensive discussion over consecutive days in a ‘hothouse’ environment.
The key impacts of the project were:
• To enable BERR to make better informed decisions on policy for the uptake of IB by the chemicals and chemicals-using sectors that take account of public views.
• Identify the key issues of importance for consumers if IB is taken forward to help with potential future communications exercises and public dialogues.
View the report, Public Perceptions of Industrial Biotechnology.
Sciencewise-ERC Helpline: 0870 190 6324 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gather individual pre-existing opinions
Number of participants
Self selected participants attending as individuals (open access process)
Level of awareness and interest
participants need information and cannot articulate their interests
participants know about some aspects/can roughly articulate some interest
Science and technology
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... face to face processes
Level of involvement