The term Biotechnology is present today practically in all areas (if not in all). Your simple Google search gives us no less than 13,000,000 results. It is the subject of numerous debates and forums, and it is strange not to hear it in any news and more so now with the pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19. Despite everything, its definition, as well as its function, seems to be a sublime entity to which only professionals and those who have their own interest in the subject have access. Many speak about it, but few seem to do it correctly, or simply with sufficient knowledge of it.
The Biotechnology Communicators Association has collected the perceptions of specialists in the sector – about 150 people – about the “Perception of Communication in Biotechnology” to know the opinion of professionals who mostly work in places of communication and dissemination, and the result is the next.
In general, the population has its own perception of ignorance.
To the question: Does society know what biotechnology is? 60% affirm that society does not know what biotechnology is. That is, although the word biotechnology is used more than ever, in addition to crescendo, what it really is is unknown. In order to facilitate its subsequent search and avoid encountering any erroneous definition, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines biotechnology as: “The application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as to parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services ”.
The next question concerns more about our association. Does the adult population have sufficient and correct knowledge of biotechnology? Around 80% consider that it is not.
This can be due to several factors: there is not enough information available about biotechnology, it is not correctly transmitted to society or it is simply not interesting. More and more efforts have been made to bring not only biotechnology but science closer to society and make it understood that it is necessary and has a fundamental role.
Do you consider that the knowledge on biotechnology of the youngest of school age is sufficient and adequate? It is another question raised by the survey. Although better than in adults, knowledge of biotechnology in children is still poor (it is only approved by 33%).
Regarding biotechnology communication, the opinion is more dispersed, but there is a certain consensus that biotechnology has communicated well in recent decades (25%). Communicating is important, making society aware of the work carried out in the laboratory is essential. However, it must be done correctly, both from an academic and a social point of view.
When asked if the media treat biotechnology appropriately, only 30% of those interviewed approve of it. Science and, specifically, biotechnology are experimental and exact areas (as far as possible) whose minimal modification can lead to problems of understanding or misinterpretations.
Regarding the following question of whether in their corresponding workplaces importance is given to internal and external communication of their work, only 18% fail. In other words, respondents consider it essential to inform their peers and society about science.
Likewise, they consider that communication between the different agents of biotechnology can be improved. You have to work in a critical and fluid communication that facilitates progress.
In addition, about 97% consider that scientific communication or dissemination as part of scientific work should be a positive aspect to take into account in a professional career. The work of a scientist is not only in his activity, but also in publicizing his work.
Likewise, with respect to the question of Public Administration support for science, 90% of the respondents considered it a failure. In Spain a lot of science is done and of great value “for foreigners” because here it is not held in esteem. Science needs to be seen as a tool worth investing in.
Finally, the respondents have given their opinion on what they consider most necessary and urgent to improve communication and scientific dissemination in biotechnology. They consider that the main action would be to intervene in early education, as well as in the way of research, followed by arousing interest in science.