Redefining Genomic Privacy: Trust and Empowerment

Yaniv Erlich, James B. Williams, David Glazer, Kenneth Yocum, Nita Farahany, Maynard Olson, Arvind Narayanan, Lincoln D. Stein, Jan A. Witkowski and Robert C. Kain

Fulfilling the promise of the genetic revolution requires the analysis of large datasets containing information from thousands to millions of participants. However, sharing human genomic data requires protecting subjects from potential harm. Current models rely on de-identification techniques in which privacy versus data utility becomes a zero-sum game. Instead, we propose the use of trust-enabling techniques to create a solution in which researchers and participants both win. To do so we introduce three principles that facilitate trust in genetic research and outline one possible framework built upon those principles. Our hope is that such trust-centric frameworks provide a sustainable solution that reconciles genetic privacy with data sharing and facilitates genetic research.


Attitudes to genetically modified food over time: How trust in organizations and the media cycle predict support

Mathew D. Marques

This research examined public opinion toward genetically modified plants and animals for food, and how trust in organizations and media coverage explained attitudes toward these organisms. Nationally representative samples (N = 8821) over 10 years showed Australians were less positive toward genetically modified animals compared to genetically modified plants for food, especially in years where media coverage was high. Structural equation modeling found that positive attitudes toward different genetically modified organisms for food were significantly associated with higher trust in scientists and regulators (e.g. governments), and with lower trust in watchdogs (e.g. environmental movement). Public trust in scientists and watchdogs was a stronger predictor of attitudes toward the use of genetically modified plants for food than animals, but only when media coverage was low. Results are discussed regarding the moral acceptability of genetically modified organisms for food, the media’s role in shaping public opinion, and the role public trust in organizations has on attitudes toward genetically modified organisms.


Lessons learned from the 2011 debacle of the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Toshio Sugiman

The history of nuclear power generation in Japan is analyzed with respect to how the organizational structure of the “nuclear villages,” composed of government, private companies and the academic world, negotiated with the growing technology before the Fukushima accident took place. Although nuclear specialists were aware of the potential for a disaster, that did not prevent the enthusiasm for nuclear. The majority of people trusted that new technology would make life easier. The organizational structure of the village consisted of a triangle in which each of the three groups and sub-groups maintained relationships with each other and with the village as a whole to secure its own share of the economic benefits. Based on the sociological theory of norm, we demonstrate that the structure and nature of the relationships in the village facilitated the acceptance of nuclear power despite the element of threat.


Knowing hydrogen and loving it too? Information provision, cultural predispositions, and support for hydrogen technology among the Dutch

Peter Achterberg

This research note studies experimentally how the public translates information about hydrogen technology into evaluations of the latter. It does so by means of a nationally representative factorial survey in the Netherlands (n = 1,012), in which respondents have been given seven randomly selected pieces of (negative, positive and/or neutral) information about this technology. Findings are consistent with framing theory. For those with high trust in science and technology, positive information increases support, while negative information detracts from it. For those with low trust in science and technology, however, information provision has no effect at all on the evaluation of hydrogen technology. Precisely among the most likely targets of science communication, i.e., those without much trust in science and technology, providing positive information fails to evoke a more favorable evaluation from the latter.