Gauging students’ perception on biotechnology and cloning: Empirical evidences from India and Tanzania
For over the last two decades biotechnology and its techniques in various fields have attracted much media attention. All over the globe, syllabi have been directed to teach biotechnology and biotechnological techniques to undergraduate and post graduate students in almost all public funded and private universities. Biotechnology is beset with many ethical and social controversies. Earlier, there was much hue and cry at the introduction of ‘Genetically Modified foods’ and ‘Bt Cotton’ and even a muchhyped project like the ‘Human Genome Project’ did not achieve its pace because of ethical concerns.
Social scientists started conducting opinion research on such ‘modern technologies’ before giving concrete shape to their adoption. In more recent years the issue of public perception, attitude and understanding towards science, in general, and towards specific technologies like genetic engineering, cloning, genetically modified foods, biotechnology and even nuclear technology, is increasing at a fast pace all over the world.
One such study has been carried out registering the perceptions of undergraduate students who are studying biology subject in India and Tanzania, on biotechnology and cloning. The survey was conducted through a questionnaire (partially structured). This analysis revealed that students favoured production of genetically modified foods but they responded that ‘biotechnological experiments’ should be conducted on plants rather than animals. Furthermore, the students were strongly supportive of medical applications of biotechnology to avoid genetic diseases. Students from the two countries gave similar responses on some issues but differed on other issues. It is worth mentioning here that, though these perception survey studies are indicative yet these are quite important in framing policies related to the introduction of new technologies and framing strategies for communication/ popularisation of these issues among the general public.
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