Public knowledge and perceptions of biotechnology and genetically modified organisms in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Research & Clinical Center for Infertility Reproductive & Genetics Unit, Shahid Sadughi Medical University, P.O. Box 89195-999, Yazd, I.R. Iran.

2 Yazd Medical Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, P.O. Box 89165-1734, Yazd, I.R. Iran.

3 Department of Pharmacology, Shahid Sadughi Medical University, P.O. Box 89195-999, Yazd, I.R. Iran.

4 Department of Computer, Yazd Islamic Azad University, Ashkezar, P.O. Box 89415-138, Yazd, I.R. Iran.


Biotechnology offers a variety of potential environmental, social and economic benefits but, it is the center of extreme public and political debate at present. A major field of discussion in biotechnology are genetically modified (GM) organisms. New medical, political, ethical and religious discussions arise over the production and consumption of these organisms. Many surveys have been conducted in industrialized countries to investigate the public perceptions regarding the risks and benefits of biotechnology, while in developing
countries hardly any studies have been done so far. The present descriptive study intends to contribute to a better understanding of public attitudes toward biotechnology and GM foods in Iran. To assess the public’s knowledge and opinions on the dangers or opportunities of genetic modification, 300 university students as a sample of educated community and 300 individuals with no university’s education as a sample of ordinary people were asked to complete a specially designed questionnaire on the risks and benefits of
biotechnology and GM foods. This article summarizes the current situation with regard to biotechnology, with a particular focus on GM foods and discusses the results of the survey. Our results indicated that public’s knowledge about biotechnology is low in Iran and more efforts are needed to improve their understanding of different aspects of biotechnology.