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Going public

Do you remember? Y2K had been announced as the great entry into the millennium of biotechnology! Did you get it?

2000 in biotechnology was planned as the year of the big conferences and meetings as well as the year of the phenomenal announcements. This should have been the grandiose prelude for an international campaign against the technique critics. But did anyone – besides scientists – really pay attention to all the efforts. Honestly: no.

No, because this is how it should be _ or no, because we missed the chance to present our science to the people. If you picked the first “no”, there is nearly no reason to go on reading. But if you think that the scientific community missed a chance, then join my thoughts about how we could better the situation.

Living in Central Europe we still face the situation that most non-scientists adore gene food and associate gene technology with Frankenstein. People will not buy daily products known to content genetically engineered compounds. We do have a really bad public opinion about gene technology. Is the reason for this situation really only ignorance and antagonism against all technological advancement? Or is it possible that the scientists themselves fail to promote their science? Who else should do it?

What biotechnology and gene technology (who are used synonymously in this context) are missing is capital. This capital is coming from confidence. A confidence that results from the knowledge of the opportunities as well as from the hope for a better future. If the people do not rely on our biotechnology enterprise they will not invest any capital in it. That is what we can learn from a going public at the stock exchange. No confidence – no money, no money – no development.

So, colleagues, let’s go public! Let’s use a language that everybody can understand when we talk about the science we love. Talk with the heart and not with the dictionary. Open your ears for the fears. Show the opportunities and advantages of biotechnology. Talk to the people and talk with the people. You are the ambassadors of our science!

Originally published in November 2000 by Inside-Lifescience, ISSN 1610-0255.

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