The poll, which was conducted by the same firm that produces the well-known NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls, found that about two-thirds of adults say they have heard nothing at all about synthetic biology, and only 2 percent say they have heard "a lot" about the new technology. Even with this very low level of awareness, a solid two-thirds of adults are willing to express an initial opinion on the potential benefits versus risks tradeoff of synthetic biology.
This survey was informed by two focus groups conducted in August in suburban Baltimore. This is the first timeto the pollsters' knowledgethat synthetic biology has been the subject of a representative national telephone survey.
At the same time, the poll found that about half of adults say they have heard nothing at all about nanotechnology. About 50 percent of adults are too unsure about nanotechnology to make an initial judgment on the possible tradeoffs between benefits and risks. Of those people who are willing to make an initial judgment, they think benefits will outweigh risks by a three to one margin when compared to those who believe risks will outweigh benefits. The plurality of respondents, however, believes that risks and benefits will be about equal. A major industry forecasting firm determined that last year nanotech goods in the global marketplace totaled $147 billion. According to the poll, the level of U.S. public awareness about nanotechnology has not changed measurably since 2004 when Hart Research conducted the first poll on the topic on behalf of the PEN.
|Contact: Colin Finan|
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies