Voters Rate Finding Cures to Diseases As Top National Issue Ahead of Terrorism, Illegal Immigration

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 6, 2007) -- Voters rate the importance of finding cures to diseases as a top national issue, ahead of the war on terrorism and dealing with illegal immigration, according to a one-of-a-kind public opinion research project conducted by two prominent national pollsters for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

The two surveys, which were conducted jointly by the nationally recognized Republican and Democratic strategy firms Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D. Hart Research Associates, compared the views of nationwide voters and senior-level biotechnology industry executives on a number of issues, including health care, the environment, alternative fuels and stem cell research. The results were released during the 2007 BIO International Convention, the world’s largest annual gathering of the global biotechnology industry, being held in Boston, Massachusetts May 6-9.

Both groups of respondents said they were optimistic that cures to major diseases will be found within the next 10-15 years. According to the survey results, industry leaders and voters share high levels of optimism about the potential for finding cures for serious diseases and, have similar perspectives on the likelihood and importance of finding cures, developing clean technologies to reduce pollution, and creating “green drug factories.”

“This survey demonstrates that voters and the biotechnology industry share a similar optimistic vision of the future – a vision of a world with cures and treatments for the most devastating diseases, a green, renewable supply of alternative fuels and a cleaner environment,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, the producer of the International Convention. “Clearly, there is still a lot for all of us to learn, but I am heartened by the enormous public support for the current direction of the biotechnology industry. The results of this poll show strong public support for our industry and provide a helpful context as we work throughout the year to ensure a positive policy environment and a familiarity among the general public that allows us to continue to move toward our vision of a better future.”

This research project, consistent with the theme of this year's BIO International Convention, "New Ideas. Bold Ventures. Global Benefits," encompassed the results of two separate surveys. A national telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted April 17 to 19, 2007, and a national Internet survey of 252 biotechnology industry leaders was conducted April 11 to 24, 2007.

Survey Highlights

Industry leaders and voters both have high levels of optimism about the potential for finding cures for serious diseases. Industry leaders expressed a strong sense of confidence that this problem could be solved, with 94 percent saying they were optimistic about the potential for finding cures to serious diseases, compared to 86 percent of voters.

Industry leaders and voters have different perspectives on the goals of finding new ways to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and cleaner ways to produce plastics. Industry leaders rate the likelihood of achieving these goals much higher than voters rate the importance of achieving either of them.

Voters expressed a greater sense of importance and expectation of the industry’s potential to achieve energy independence than industry leaders rated the likelihood of achieving this goal. Thirty-nine percent of voters rated attaining energy independence among the top one or two most likely biotechnology achievements, while only 17 percent of the top-level executives interviewed rated achieving energy independence among the top one or two most likely goals the industry was likely to achieve over the next 10 to 15 years.

Regulatory burdens is ranked as the top challenge facing the industry over the next decade. Fifty-six percent of the industry leaders questioned said that federal government regulation in the biotech industry has a negative impact. Moreover, 71 percent of the top-level executives interviewed perceive that avoiding price controls on biotechnology products in the United States would be the single most helpful action our government could take to assist the biotech industry.

Voters Addressed Controversial Topics

· By a margin of two-to-one, voters said they believe embryonic stem cell research is a positive development (63 percent positive development, 31 percent troubling development).

· Almost three-quarters of voters (73 percent) agree the growth of alternative fuels is a positive development.

· Voters were fairly evenly split on genetically modified crops, with 47 percent of voters perceiving them to be a positive development because they have helped to alleviate the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the poorest countries of the world and reduced our reliance on chemical pesticides. Forty-three percent of voters, on the other hand, said genetically modified crops were a troubling development because there haven’t been enough tests to confirm the risks and overall safety.

Voters Focused On Health Care, Cures/Treatments, and the Environment

· Voters rated the importance of finding cures to diseases as a top national issue, ahead of dealing with illegal immigration and combating terrorism.

· Eighty percent of voters said the development of biotechnology clot-buster drugs that allow doctors to dissolve blood clots, saving lives and reducing damage associated with heart attacks is a very important contribution by the industry.

· Meanwhile, 80 percent also said that patient access for new biotech treatments in public health care is a positive development.

· Sixty-seven percent of voters also thought that biotechnology being used to help with environmental cleanups, such as oil and chemical spills, is a very important contribution.

Industry Leaders Optimistic, But Concerned With Government Regulation and Political Interference in Scientific Judgment

· Seventy-nine percent of industry leaders said they are optimistic that the biotechnology industry will continue to develop new therapeutics and products to help address global needs in health care, agriculture, energy and environment.

· Regulatory burdens and political interference with scientific judgment ranked as the top two challenges facing the industry over the next decade.

· Fifty-six percent of the industry leaders questioned said that federal government regulation in the biotech industry has a negative impact.

· Moreover, 71 percent maintained that avoiding price controls on biotechnology products in the United States would be the single most helpful action our government could take to assist the biotech industry.

· The industry itself, however, was split on whether science and technology would be able to find solutions for protecting the environment from pollution and global warming, with 54 percent saying they are optimistic a solution can be found in the next 10 to 15 years and 46 percent not optimistic.

Voters, Industry Leaders Share Some Perspectives, Diverge on Others

· Industry leaders and voters agreed on the likelihood and importance of three goals: (1) finding cures for serious diseases, (2) developing clean technologies to reduce pollution, and (3) developing new plants that would be like “green drug factories.”

· Industry leaders and voters both have high levels of optimism about the potential for finding cures for serious diseases. Industry leaders expressed a strong sense of confidence that this problem could be solved, with 94 percent saying they were optimistic about the potential for finding cures to serious diseases, compared to 86 percent of voters.

· Thirty-nine percent of voters rated attaining energy independence among the top one or two most likely biotechnology achievements, while only 17 percent of the top-level executives interviewed rated achieving energy independence among the top one or two most likely goals the industry was likely to achieve over the next 10 to 15 years.

· Industry leaders also ranked alleviating hunger, developing cleaner ways to produce plastics, and developing defenses against biological attacks as top goals they are likely to achieve in the next 10-15 years. Voters, meanwhile, did not place such a high priority on those goals.

· An overwhelming 72 percent of voters said one of biotechnology’s top goals for the next 10-15 years should be reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, compared to 61 percent of industry members who said this goal was likely to be achieved.

About BIO

Founded in 1993, BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest annual gathering of the global biotechnology industry. www.bio.org

About Public Opinion Strategies

Public Opinion Strategies is a survey research company specializing in corporate, public policy and litigation research, with offices in Washington, Denver and Los Angeles. Since its founding in 1991, Public Opinion Strategies has completed more than 10,000 research projects and interviewed more than four million Americans across the United States. These projects have ranged in scope from neighborhood studies to national samples in all 50 states. Internationally, Public Opinion Strategies has completed research projects in Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Guam, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Venezuela, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Since Public Opinion Strategies’ roots are in political campaign management, their research is focused on producing information that compels decisions - and then results.

About Peter D. Hart Research Associates

Founded in 1971, Peter D. Hart Research Associates is one of the leading survey research firms in the United States and has been at the cutting edge of change in the field of public opinion for more than three decades. In that time, we have conducted well over 5,000 public opinion surveys and have administered and analyzed interviews among more than three million individuals. We have also undertaken more than 5,000 focus group sessions.

Upcoming BIO Events


BIO International Convention
May 6-9, 2007
Boston, MA

BIO VentureForum-East 2007
June 18-20, 2007
Montreal, Canada

BIO Mid-America VentureForum 2007
Sep. 24–26, 2007
Milwaukee, WI


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About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.