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Engaging scientists: An online survey exploring the experience of innovative biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases.

Boëte C, Beisel U, Reis Castro L, Césard N, Reeves RG - Parasit Vectors (2015)

Bottom Line: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy.Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale.Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UMR_D 190 Emergence des Pathologies Virales, Aix Marseille Université, IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), EHESP (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique), 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385, Marseille, Cedex 5, France. cboete@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy. The communication of information during their development and open exchanges between stakeholders is generally considered a key issue in their acceptance. While the attitudes of the public to novel technologies have been widely considered there has been relatively little investigation of the perceptions and awareness of scientists working on human or animal diseases transmitted by arthropods.

Methods: Consequently, we conducted a global survey on 1889 scientists working on aspects of vector-borne diseases, exploring, under the light of a variety of demographic and professional factors, their knowledge and awareness of an emerging biotechnology that has the potential to revolutionize the control of pest insect populations.

Results: Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale. We document that awareness of pioneering releases significantly relied on private communication sources that were not equally accessible to scientists from countries with endemic vector-borne diseases (dengue and malaria). In addition, we provide quantitative analysis of the perceptions and knowledge of specific biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne disease, which are likely to impact the way in which scientists around the world engage in the debate about their value.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Regional and national awareness of pioneering mosquito releases before they occured. Awareness of either pioneering trial before releases occurred was uniformly low among expert scientists (<35 %) at national (3a) and regional (3b) levels. The only exception is the high national awareness achieved in Australia for the 2011 release that occurred in Queensland (Australia). The high awareness in the Oceania region for the Australian release (3b) should be viewed with caution as 66 % (Q20) and 72 % (Q22) of respondents from this region are Australian. Sample sizes are shown above the respective bars in (3a) and (3b). Individuals that were not able to remember when they learnt about the release or that where directly involved in it (Q21 and Q23) are excluded from the corresponding figure
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Fig3: Regional and national awareness of pioneering mosquito releases before they occured. Awareness of either pioneering trial before releases occurred was uniformly low among expert scientists (<35 %) at national (3a) and regional (3b) levels. The only exception is the high national awareness achieved in Australia for the 2011 release that occurred in Queensland (Australia). The high awareness in the Oceania region for the Australian release (3b) should be viewed with caution as 66 % (Q20) and 72 % (Q22) of respondents from this region are Australian. Sample sizes are shown above the respective bars in (3a) and (3b). Individuals that were not able to remember when they learnt about the release or that where directly involved in it (Q21 and Q23) are excluded from the corresponding figure

Mentions: To explore the awareness of scientists to pioneering developments, we asked respondents to recall when and how they became aware of the first field trials of two distinct approaches to control dengue fever. The first was the pioneering release of transgenic mosquitoes in 2009 in East End, Cayman Islands (an overseas U.K. territory in the Caribbean, [7]). The second was a release in 2011 of mosquitoes transfected with a maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria (Wolbachia pipentis) in Cairns, Australia ([8] – note that the date of release was incorrectly given as October 2011 rather than January 2011 in the survey text, see Additional file 3, Q22 for details and explanations concerning the validity of the analysis. From the responses given (Q20-24, Additional file 3) the most striking observation is the consistently small percentage of scientists (considering only the ones not directly involved in the releases) that were aware of either release before it started, consistently <35 % throughout the globe (Figs. 1, 2 and 3). The only exception is the Oceania region where pre-release awareness exceeded 50 % for the 2011 Australia release; however, this observation is largely driven by a high degree of awareness in Australia (Fig. 3a). In summary, with respect to either of these two pioneering trials, based on our sampling, there is only compelling evidence for a single nationally successful communication strategy and none for any globally successful ones.Fig. 1


Engaging scientists: An online survey exploring the experience of innovative biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne diseases.

Boëte C, Beisel U, Reis Castro L, Césard N, Reeves RG - Parasit Vectors (2015)

Regional and national awareness of pioneering mosquito releases before they occured. Awareness of either pioneering trial before releases occurred was uniformly low among expert scientists (<35 %) at national (3a) and regional (3b) levels. The only exception is the high national awareness achieved in Australia for the 2011 release that occurred in Queensland (Australia). The high awareness in the Oceania region for the Australian release (3b) should be viewed with caution as 66 % (Q20) and 72 % (Q22) of respondents from this region are Australian. Sample sizes are shown above the respective bars in (3a) and (3b). Individuals that were not able to remember when they learnt about the release or that where directly involved in it (Q21 and Q23) are excluded from the corresponding figure
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4530488&req=5

Fig3: Regional and national awareness of pioneering mosquito releases before they occured. Awareness of either pioneering trial before releases occurred was uniformly low among expert scientists (<35 %) at national (3a) and regional (3b) levels. The only exception is the high national awareness achieved in Australia for the 2011 release that occurred in Queensland (Australia). The high awareness in the Oceania region for the Australian release (3b) should be viewed with caution as 66 % (Q20) and 72 % (Q22) of respondents from this region are Australian. Sample sizes are shown above the respective bars in (3a) and (3b). Individuals that were not able to remember when they learnt about the release or that where directly involved in it (Q21 and Q23) are excluded from the corresponding figure
Mentions: To explore the awareness of scientists to pioneering developments, we asked respondents to recall when and how they became aware of the first field trials of two distinct approaches to control dengue fever. The first was the pioneering release of transgenic mosquitoes in 2009 in East End, Cayman Islands (an overseas U.K. territory in the Caribbean, [7]). The second was a release in 2011 of mosquitoes transfected with a maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria (Wolbachia pipentis) in Cairns, Australia ([8] – note that the date of release was incorrectly given as October 2011 rather than January 2011 in the survey text, see Additional file 3, Q22 for details and explanations concerning the validity of the analysis. From the responses given (Q20-24, Additional file 3) the most striking observation is the consistently small percentage of scientists (considering only the ones not directly involved in the releases) that were aware of either release before it started, consistently <35 % throughout the globe (Figs. 1, 2 and 3). The only exception is the Oceania region where pre-release awareness exceeded 50 % for the 2011 Australia release; however, this observation is largely driven by a high degree of awareness in Australia (Fig. 3a). In summary, with respect to either of these two pioneering trials, based on our sampling, there is only compelling evidence for a single nationally successful communication strategy and none for any globally successful ones.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy.Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale.Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: UMR_D 190 Emergence des Pathologies Virales, Aix Marseille Université, IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), EHESP (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique), 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385, Marseille, Cedex 5, France. cboete@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Pioneering technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology or climate engineering) are often associated with potential new risks and uncertainties that can become sources of controversy. The communication of information during their development and open exchanges between stakeholders is generally considered a key issue in their acceptance. While the attitudes of the public to novel technologies have been widely considered there has been relatively little investigation of the perceptions and awareness of scientists working on human or animal diseases transmitted by arthropods.

Methods: Consequently, we conducted a global survey on 1889 scientists working on aspects of vector-borne diseases, exploring, under the light of a variety of demographic and professional factors, their knowledge and awareness of an emerging biotechnology that has the potential to revolutionize the control of pest insect populations.

Results: Despite extensive media coverage of key developments (including releases of manipulated mosquitoes into human communities) this has in only one instance resulted in scientist awareness exceeding 50% on a national or regional scale. We document that awareness of pioneering releases significantly relied on private communication sources that were not equally accessible to scientists from countries with endemic vector-borne diseases (dengue and malaria). In addition, we provide quantitative analysis of the perceptions and knowledge of specific biotechnological approaches to controlling vector-borne disease, which are likely to impact the way in which scientists around the world engage in the debate about their value.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that there is scope to strengthen already effective methods of communication, in addition to a strong demand by scientists (expressed by 79.9% of respondents) to develop new, creative modes of public engagement.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus