Majority of U.S. Voters Support Streamlined Biotech Regulations
New BIO/Morning Consult survey shows strong support for biotech innovation and its role in addressing critical global challenges.
The majority of U.S. voters (62%) hold a favorable opinion of biotechnology and view its benefits as important, according to new survey data. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), also finds strong support for streamlining regulatory processes and updating government policies to allow innovative technologies to come to market.
Two-thirds (66%) of voters agree that the government’s regulatory approval process should be updated to allow agricultural biotechnology companies to commercialize innovative products more quickly. A study last year found that the time it takes to get new biotech plant traits to market has increased 21% since 2012 and the regulatory phase is the longest part of the process of commercializing new traits.
A similar share, 67%, of registered voters support government policies that seek to address the country’s challenges, including food insecurity and climate change, through biotechnology.
“Voters are eager to leverage cutting-edge biotechnology solutions to address some of the world’s biggest challenges. These survey findings should signal to policymakers the importance of advancing regulatory clarity to help bring biotechnology products to market,” said BIO Vice President for Agriculture & Environment Beth Ellikidis. “It’s time for the administration to put policy action behind its vision. There is a desparate need for the holistic approach outlined in the Biden administration’s ‘Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing’ to harness biotechnology in achieving societal goals — such as furthering agricultural innovation, creating food supply resilience, and developing climate change solutions.”
Voters surveyed ranked the most important benefits of agricultural and industrial biotechnology as: increasing crop yields to produce more food per acre of land (84% say it’s important), feeding more people using fewer natural resources and less fuel (83%), producing crops that need less water and can withstand drought (83%), breeding healthier animals that are resistant to viruses and diseases (83%), and producing food crops with built-in protection from pests and diseases (82%).
Other benefits deemed important included growing the U.S. economy through new technologies and industries (80%), absorbing carbon dioxide in the soil to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (79%), extending the shelf life of produce and reducing food waste (79%), producing foods with medicinal properties to aid in human health (79%), producing more plant-based energy such as sustainable aviation fuels and other renewable fuels (78%), providing more plant-based industrial materials (77%), increasing the nutritional value of foods (75%), and providing plant-based protein options (66%).
Biotech companies continue to develop technologies to tackle some of the biggest societal goals — such as boosting crop outputs and reducing carbon emissions in agriculture and manufacturing, capturing carbon, developing vaccines against animal viruses and potentially preventing the next pandemic, breeding livestock genetically engineered for resistance to diseases, addressing food allergies, making air travel more sustainable through production of sustainable aviation fuel, strengthening food security, and reducing food waste. These are just some of the applications of innovative biotechnology.
“We are living in an exciting time for agricultural, environmental, and industrial biotech innovation and the expanding plethora of real-world applications,” Ellikidis added. “We are witnessing the beginnings of a biotech revolution, and it’s critical that public policy keep up and help, not hinder, bringing these exciting developments to market to make our world more secure and sustainable, as consumers want.”
The poll also found that opinions about agricultural biotechnology have become more favorable as people have learned more about it. Of those who say their opinions have changed, 80% say their views are more positive than in the past.
“This finding shows just how important it is for organizations such as BIO and everyone who is working in agricultural biotechnology to continue engaging the public about these technologies and their benefits,” said Ellikidis.
This poll was conducted between July 21 and July 23, 2023, among a sample of 1,991 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on gender by age, educational attainment, race, marital status, home ownership, race by educational attainment, 2020 presidential vote, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
About BIO—The Biotechnology Innovation Organization 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 countries. BIO is comprised of 1,000 members in a biotech ecosystem with a central mission: to advance public policy that supports a wide range of companies and academic research centers that are working to apply biology and technology in the energy, agriculture, manufacturing and health sectors to improve the lives of people and the health of the planet.