Biotechnology Literacy: Much More than a Gene Story

By Angel González, Marina Casanoves, Zoel Salvadó, John Barnett and Maria Teresa Novo.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Genomics and its related technologies (generally called modern biotechnology) is developing at a very high rate of speed both in basic research and applied technology (from medicine to agriculture), having the potential to become one of the most important scientific and technological revolutions of the 21st century. Recent rapid developments in modern biotechnology and genetic engineering have led to an increasingly large gap between what the scientific community understands as the risks and rewards of new products and what greater society understands. As these technologies continue to expand their important role in Western and other societies, there is an obvious need for well informed citizens in those societies, people who have the skills of critical discrimination and the abilities and desire to take part in decisions about biotechnological issues. Thus, in the 21st century, science education should become a bridge between science itself, technology, and the social and environmental contexts in which both science and technology operate. Much research in science education worldwide promotes, as an important goal of science teaching, the scientific and technological literacy of whole populations. This paper deals with the needs and mechanisms of developing biotechnological literacy during students' formative stages.

Keywords: Modern Biotechnology, Social Implications of Technology, STSE, Social Constructivism, Education

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.27-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 357.143KB).

Angel González

Tarragona, Spain

University Rovira i Virgili, Spain

Marina Casanoves

PhD Student, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Insitute of Education Sciences, University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

University Rovira i Virgili, Spain

Zoel Salvadó

University Rovira i Virgili, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

University Rovira i Virgili, Spain

John Barnett

Professor, Faculty of Education., Science Education , Online Education, University Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

I am a faculty member here in the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. I started here in July 2001 after working for a number of years at the University of Auckland in faraway New Zealand. My PhD comes from OISE at the University of Toronto. Before that I was a biology, general science and computer science teacher in Nova Scotia for about twenty years.

Maria Teresa Novo

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology , Experimental Sciences Didactics, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain

I received my PhD degree in 2006 and have 16 international publications from my scientific work in 4 different institutions. My current position as assistant professor is focused on teaching experimental sciences. My main role is to be the link between the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department and the Faculty of Education and Psychology Sciences in order to transfer the scientific knowledge produced at the Department to the educational community and society in general. To develop this role, I belong and collaborate to the research group FOCONET (Formación contínua y nuevas tecnologías), which belongs to the Institute of Education Sciences (Instituto de Ciencias de la Educación) of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili. My field of research is focused on the analysis of social knowledge and attitudes towards biotechnological issues.