Consumers distrust some of the field's developments and put too much hope in other, well-publicized studies.

CALLING ALL SCIENTISTS: The best source of information on biotech, says Carl Feldbaum of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, is the scientist, who can really help educate the press and the public.
The public's fears when modern biotechnology began two decades ago have both diminished and evolved. Surveys indicate that today, many people accept that biotechnology will increasingly supply everyday products such as food, fibers, and pharmaceuticals. But the wide range of public knowledge-and misperceptions-about biotech reflects the diversity of the field.

Consumers show concern over not-yet-feasible human cloning and, while they are somewhat unaware of the many drugs already available courtesy of biotechnology, they have unrealistic expectations for gene therapy, which is still far from clinical reality. "We're seeing a whole new awareness over the last 10 years," observes James Chamberlain, president and chief...

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