University College, London
Plant-made pharmaceuticals represent the third generation of genetically modified crops as well as a potentially significant development in pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing. Successful development is contingent on a number of factors, one of which is social acceptance. This article outlines the results of a focus group study conducted in the UK on public attitudes toward molecular farming. It finds that attitudes are predominantly positive. Judgments about molecular farming are made in terms of perceived need and benefits, not limited to the participants themselves. Concerns do exist about whether molecular farming represents the best approach to pharmaceutical production, which diseases are targeted, and whether it can be controlled and contained. While participants are unfamiliar with molecular farming, they draw on a range of existing knowledge and examples to anchor their understandings of it.
Key words: molecular farming, plant-made pharmaceuticals, qualitative research, public attitudes, UK.