Can public engagement with socioscientific issues change attitudes? A survey of New Zealander’s responses to genetic engineering

by Katherine Hope

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Record ID: 1310391
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4895


When science enters the public domain it can often lead to controversy if it raises questions of power, knowledge and control. This thesis uses examples of these socioscientific issues to evaluate the positive and negative impacts of science on society. The ability of socioscientific issues to promote critical thinking and produce democratic citizens is also discussed in the context of science education and science communication. New Zealand's experience with Genetic Engineering (GE) is used as the basis for a survey on New Zealanders’ current attitudes towards GE. In 2001, the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification had found 92% of public submitters were completely opposed to GE. The survey reported in this thesis found 80% of the 609 respondents are now accepting, or completely accepting of GE which indicates that public opinion towards GE is shifting towards acceptance. This change in opinion may be due to the overwhelmingly approval of GE by scientific institutions worldwide, though the main concern New Zealanders have about GE is large corporations, like Monsanto, controlling the scientists and their products.