EDUCATIONAL AWARENESS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY ISSUES AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS AT THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES UNIVERSITY
Due to its valuable benefits and potential risks, there is a progressing debate among opponents and proponents of biotechnology in recent decades. Previous studies have shown that lack of knowledge about biotechnology remains the concern about genetically modified organisms/food (GMO/GMF). This study assessed levels of educational awareness perceptions and attitudes of United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) students toward biotechnology. An electronic survey including literacy, environmental, social and economic domains associated with biotechnology was administered to obtain data from undergraduate students in different colleges of the university. Responses from students (n = 1,104) were gathered and statistically analyzed. Results indicated that educational awareness in biotechnology literacy and environmental domains were significantly different according to the enrolled college and the academic achievement of the student. In general, a poor overall performance of our students’ understanding was concluded. Aware groups most likely accepted accurate biotechnology information delivered by reliable sources from Internet or lectures. Since the students have several concept misunderstandings of biotechnology, our results suggest that awareness plays a role in forming a “clear-cut” opinion about this technology. Priorities on university curricula and teaching strategies should be extensively given to promote the students’ perception in understanding biotechnology.