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United States Biotechnology Study, 1997-1998

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • Miller, Jon D.
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • National Science Foundation
Free Keywords
biotechnology; cloning; ethics; genetic engineering; government regulation; knowledge (awareness); public opinion; public policy; quality of life; scientific research; technology
  • Abstract

    Fielded November 11, 1997, through February 14, 1998, this study collected data from United States citizens aged 18 and older regarding their interest in and attentiveness to selected current news issues, knowledge of and attitudes toward biotechnology, various forms of political participation, and knowledge of scientific concepts. Conducted not long after the 1996 Eurobarometer Survey (EUROBAROMETER 46.1: MODERN BIOTECHNOLOGY, PRIVACY ON COMPUTER NETWORKS, AND THE COMMON EUROPEAN CURRENCY, OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 1996 [ICPSR 6940]), this study posed some questions similar to those asked of European respondents. To begin the interview, respondents were asked how interested they were in selected news issues, including agriculture and farm events, economic and business conditions, new scientific and medical discoveries, new inventions and technologies, environmental pollution, and quality and cost of health care services, and how well informed they felt about these issues. They were asked how often they read a newspaper, what magazines and newsletters they read regularly, and whether new technologies such as solar energy, computers and information technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, telecommunications, and space exploration would improve our way of life over the next 20 years. Respondents were also queried on the meaning of the term "modern biotechnology" and asked if they had heard or read anything about modern biotechnology in the last three months, where they heard or read about it, what they had heard or read, and how they would get more information on the subject if they wanted it. They were asked if they knew about the cloning of Dolly the sheep, whether they understood the terms "DNA" and "molecule", and whether they knew about specific applications of biotechnology used for food and drink production, plant and crop genetics for pest resistance, human genetics for medicine and for organ transplant, and detection of serious diseases in unborn children. Respondents were also asked whether these applications were useful, risky, or morally acceptable to society, whether the practices should be encouraged, and how much trust they would have in groups such as the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration, university scientists, food manufacturers, the National Institutes of Health, news reporters, the United States Department of Agriculture, TIME or NEWSWEEK, and CONSUMER REPORTS if these groups were to make public statements about the safety of biotechnology. Agreement or disagreement was sought regarding statements about topics such as informed citizens' influence on government science and technology policies, federal funding of knowledge-advancing scientific research, pain and injury to laboratory animals for human benefit, current biotechnology regulations, personal or family benefits from biotechnology, religion and biotechnology, public involvement in biotechnology policies, and whether respondents supported or opposed biotechnology and why. Respondents were read a list of human attributes, including eye color, intelligence, happiness, athletic ability, work attitude, and musical ability, and asked if they thought each was inherited or learned. They were further queried as to whether, in the next 20 years, modern biotechnology would cause a reduction in environmental pollution, world hunger, or the range of fruits and vegetables available, create new diseases, cure most genetic diseases, improve Third World natural resource yield, produce designer babies, or replace most existing food products. Respondents were asked for their understanding of the term "scientific study" and to determine the truth of a set of statements having to do with bacteria, viruses, senility, cloning, the human immune system, and animal, human, and plant genetics. In addition, they were asked how important biotechnology issues were to them personally, how informed they felt about biotechnology, and if they had ever talked about this subject with someone prior to the interview. Demographic attributes collected include political participation (including whether the respondent had written or spoken to any public official during the past year, their party affiliation, and who they voted for in 1996), religious affiliation and participation, marital status, number of adults and children in the household, educational attainment and field of study (including specific science and math courses taken in high school and any current studies), current employment status and occupation, computer usage at work, pets, language spoken at home, computer ownership, World Wide Web access and usage, smoking, geographic location, race, age, and gender.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • 1997-11 / 1998-02
    Time period: 1997-11--1998-02
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Collection Mode
  • (1) The data are provided as an SPSS portable file. (2) This collection has not been processed by ICPSR staff. ICPSR is distributing the data and documentation for this collection in essentially the same form in which they were received. When appropriate, documentation has been converted to Portable Document Format (PDF), data files have been converted to non-platform-specific formats, and variables have been recoded to ensure respondents' anonymity. (3) The codebook, data collection instrument, and frequencies are provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Funding insitution(s): National Science Foundation (SRS97-32170).
This study is freely available to ICPSR member institutions via web download.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 3030 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Cole, Benjamin M., Banerjee, Preeta M.. Morally contentious technology-field intersections: The case of biotechnology in the United States. Journal of Business Ethics.115, 555-574.2013.
    • ID: 10.1007/s10551-012-1416-1 (DOI)
  • James, Harvey S., Jr.. Trust in Scientists and Food Manufacturers: Implications for the Public Support of Biotechnology. Journal of Agribusiness.24, (2), 2006.
  • James, Harvey S., Jr.. The Effect of Trust on Public Support for Biotechnology: Evidence from the U.S. Biotechnology Study, 1997-1998. Agribusiness.19, (2), 155-168.2003.
    • ID: 10.1002/agr.10052 (DOI)

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Miller, Jon D. (2000): United States Biotechnology Study, 1997-1998. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.