The Eurobarometer 2002 survey on "Europeans and biotechnology" shows that when asked whether biotechnology will improve our way of life or not, 43% of Europeans are optimistic, 17% pessimistic, 12% said it would make no difference and as many as 27% said "don't know". In the period 1999-2002, optimism in biotechnology has increased to the level seen in the early 1990s after a decade of continuously decline. Europeans continue to distinguish between medical applications, for which support is clear, and agricultural and food applications, which are not widely supported. However, there is a change from the downward trend in attitudes to GM food over the past six years. While on average GM food is still not supported, in many countries attitudes have become more positive since the last survey was conducted in 1999. While the cloning of human cells and tissues is on average supported in all EU countries, the exploitation of genetic information is a source of concern for many Europeans.
This fifth Eurobarometer survey on biotechnology and the life sciences follows those conducted in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999 and in 2002. The survey is based on a representative sample of 16,500 respondents, approximately 1000 in each EU member state (see report for exceptions). Survey design and analysis were conducted by a research group 'Life Sciences in European Society' supported by DG Research. In a year when many European countries are involved in public discussions on aspects of biotechnology, this survey stands as a contribution to the informed debate.
The European Commission has emphasised the need for "societal scrutiny and dialogue" in the Life Sciences and Biotechnology - A Strategy for Europe 2002 (COM(2002)27).
Europeans are not technophob
Contact: Stephane Hogan
European Commission's Research Directorate-General