Public Perceptions of Biotechnology in South Africa: Evidence from a National Survey

Public Perceptions of Biotechnology in South Africa: Evidence from a National Survey 2016-11-10T17:52:02+00:00

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Science Talk
Presenter: Dr Michael Gastrow, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa
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Biotechnology offers enormous potential for economic growth and human development, globally and in South Africa. However the sector faces limited public understanding of what biotechnology is, how it is governed, how knowledge is produced, and how the benefits are distributed and accrued. This provides fertile ground for public reservations about the ethics and implications biotechnology.

Understanding public perceptions of biotechnology is critical for informing policy for the sector. The Public Understanding of Biotechnology programme of the South African
Agency for Science and Technology Advancement therefore commissioned a national survey of the South African public’s perceptions of biotechnology. The results of this
study provide new insights into changes in perceptions of biotechnology over time, comparisons between perceptions in South Africa and other parts of the world, the
manner in which different demographic groups perceive biotechnology, perceptions of genetically modified food, perceptions of medical biotechnology, perceptions of
indigenous knowledge systems that incorporate biotechnology, the perceived risks and benefits of biotechnology, and perceptions of how biotechnology should be regulated
and governed.

It is hoped that this evidence can contribute towards a constructive public discourse about biotechnology, to the ultimate benefit of South Africa as we strive towards democratised science and technology.
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gastrowDr Michael Gastrow
Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa
Presenter

Dr Michael Gastrow is a Chief Research Specialist in the Education and Skills Development research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa. His research focus is on innovation systems, skills development, the public understanding of science, and science communication.
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