The most important message for biotechnology in the new Office of Technology Assessment's study of public perceptions of the biotechnology industry is that knowledge dispels concern. Based on a nationwide probability sampling conducted last fall by Lou Harris & Associates, the study finds that nearly half of American adults describe themselves as very interested, concerned and/or knowledgeable about science and technology. It also reveals that fully 80 per cent of the American public expects that they, or a member of their family, will benefit from developments in this area in the next 20 years. In fact, two-thirds of the U.S. public feels that genetic engineering will make life better for all people.

What is the object lesson here? That our chief critic is a dog who has seen his day? That an enlightened electorate has somehow been won over? That despite constant efforts by some to create fear and spread...

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