As public understanding of the technology improves, Europeans are warming to the biotech industry and half (52 percent) now express confidence that it will eventually improve their quality of life. But trust in some specific products, such as genetically modified food, remains low.

The latest Eurobarometer survey—conducted last year but published in June 2006—reveals growing optimism about biotechnology among the 25,000 European citizens surveyed throughout the 25 nations of the EU.

Respondents generally favored the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research, as long as such research is conducted within a strict ethical framework. Similarly, a high percentage of Europeans (58 percent) did not object to the idea of their genetic data being stored for research purposes. Three-quarters of the respondents (72 percent) said they trusted university researchers and two-thirds (62 percent) said they trusted industry researchers.

However the use of biotech to produce genetically modified food and agricultural products, enjoyed less public support. A majority of Europeans (58 percent) believe that the development of GM foods should not be encouraged.