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TDK conference 2011

User judgement of biotechnological innovations
Solymár Dániel - year 4
Szent István University Faculty of Veterinary Science Department of State Veterinary Medicine and Agricultural Economics
Supervisors: Dr. Gyula Kasza, Dr. László Visnyei


Beginning from the second half of the 20th century debates focused on the socio-economic embedding of biotechnological innovations have been given an impetus. Their common statement is that a given technological development may only be examined and interpreted in its wider social relations. This process resulted in the appearance of the expression “democratic science”, which refers to the fact that not only the participants of science are entitled to form opinions on and take a stand in certain issues of science organisation but also those who constitute the target group and users of the innovation.

Introducing certain biotechnological innovations is an integral part of Hungarian veterinary surgeon education. Often, these technologies are only in the experimental phase however, due to the hidden potential in them, they are expected to play a dominant role in the next decades. Previous researches conducted in this issue showed that their spread will be considerably influenced by the acceptance of the society, i.e. the medium in which they have to be implemented. At the same time, risks perceived by future users will not necessarily be identical with the dangers identified by experts. Therefore, it is important that the acceptance of the individual innovative technologies and processes should be known, based on which a more targeted communication may be conducted between experts and future users. Lacking this, the return of the invested material and human resources will become even more risky, or a loss may occur at the level of the whole society if the introduction of a technology with significant effect is delayed in time.

In my research I made qualitative user examination focusing on the following issues: 1) participants’ level of knowledge regarding biotechnology, 2) risks and potentials perceived by them; 3) moral judgement of these innovations. The following issues were subject to the examination: 1) Biotechnology in general 2) Genetically modified organisms 3) Xenotransplantation 4) Cloning.

I chose focus group examination as research methodology as it gives in-depth insight into the thoughts of certain consumer groups and it allows mapping their system of attitudes. The statistical reliability of qualitative examinations fall behind that of the quantitative examinations however, by processing all available results of previous quantitative researches carried out in Hungary, as well as using a focus group examination with unusually high number of elements I attempted to counterbalance this disadvantage.

Among my research results, the following should be highlighted: 1) As far as the common opinion on biotechnological innovations is concerned, the socio-cultural background of the respondents is highly important 2) opinions vary according to the age, qualification, qualification type and demographic factors 3) the more information somebody has on a certain innovation, the more willing she/he is to accept it.

Corvinus University of Budapest, Faculty of Food Science, Department of Food Economics

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