Poll: Few know what synbio or nanotech are

Oct. 1, 2008 at 4:13 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Scientists say a new survey finds nearly half of all U.S. adults know little or nothing about nanotechnology and nine in 10 never heard of synthetic biology.

Both emerging technologies, said scientists, involve manipulating matter at an incredibly small scale.

The survey was conducted by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and Peter Hart Research.

"Early in the administration of the next president, scientists are expected to take the next major step toward the creation of synthetic forms of life," said PEN Director David Rejeski. "Yet the results from the first U.S. telephone poll about synthetic biology show most adults have heard just a little or nothing at all about it."

Synthetic biology is the use of advanced science and engineering to construct or redesign living organisms, such as bacteria, so they can carry out specific functions.

The surveys found although most adults know nothing about synthetic biology, two-thirds of them are willing to express an initial opinion on the potential benefits versus risks tradeoff of synthetic biology.

The survey is available at http://www.nanotechproject.org/process/assets/files/7040/final-synbioreport.pdf.

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