A public consultation on the biosciences was launched this week by the science minister Lord Sainsbury.
"This exercise will help us identify issues that interest people and the information they wish to receive," said Lord Sainsbury. It could also influence the future direction of science itself.
More than 1,000 people will be asked for their views on a range of subjects, including cloning, genetically modified food, genetic testing for medical conditions.
The government is interested in the extent of people's knowledge of the regulatory processes governing the biosciences. "This exercise will inform people of (the regulatory system for science) as well as seeking their views on how it could be improved," said Lord Sainsbury. Asked whether the initiative was inspired by the BSE crisis, he said: "I think the previous administration was seen to be always reactive and not putting information fully in the public arena."
Tom Wakeford, of the University of East London and a member of the working group, said: "This consultation is giving citizens some potential influence on what the future of science will look like."