A telephone survey was conducted November 2-6, 2001 among 1008 adults (507 men and 501 women) using a national probability sample based on age, race and region.*  Respondents were asked to rate their agreement with three statements regarding the threat of bioterrorism. 

  • Almost two thirds (64%) of respondents were in agreement (includes "agree" and "agree strongly") with the statement, "I am concerned about bio-terrorists contaminating the U.S. food supply with anthrax or other biological agents," and over a quarter (26%) agreed "strongly." Only 23% disagreed with the statement.
  • Women were more likely to be in agreement than men (70% vs. 59%), and more likely to agree strongly (30% vs. 22%).  Among women, only 17% disagreed.
  • The following groups were each more likely to agree strongly:
    Those with lower incomes (under $25K): 32% vs. 24% among higher income groups ($25K plus).  Only 19% of this group disagreed with the statement.
  • Those with only a high school level education: 32% vs. 21% of those with at least some college education.  22% of this group disagreed with the statement.
  • Those with children under 18 in their household: 30% vs. 24% for those without children.  As with the total sample, 23% of this group disagreed.
  • Over half (51%) of respondents were in agreement (includes "agree" and "agree strongly") with the statement, "Irradiation could be used to kill anthrax and other biological agents," and 16% agreed "strongly." Only 12% disagreed with the statement, while a full 37% either didn't know or weren't sure if they agreed or disagreed.
  • Men were more likely to be in agreement than women (55% vs. 48%), although there was no difference in their rate of disagreement.
    Younger people (age 18-34) were less likely to be in agreement with the statement than those age 35 or older (43% vs. 56%).  Still, only 14% of the younger group disagreed.
  • Older people (age 65+) were more likely to agree strongly than groups under age 65 (22% vs. 14%).  Among the older group only 10% disagreed.
  • Higher income respondents ($50K +) were more likely to be in agreement than lower income (Less than $50K) respondents (58% vs. 49%) and also more likely to agree strongly (22% vs.12%).  Only 9% disagreed among this group.
  • Those in the West were more likely to agree strongly than respondents in other regions (21% vs. 14%).
  • Respondents with children were less likely to be in agreement with the statement (47% vs. 55%).  Nevertheless, only 14% disagreed.
  • Over half of respondents (52%) were in agreement (includes "agree" and "agree strongly") with the statement, "Because of the threat of bio-terrorism, the government should require irradiation to help ensure a safe food supply," and 17% agreed "strongly." 22% of respondents disagreed, while 26% either didn't know or weren't sure if they agreed or disagreed.
    Older respondents (age 65+) were more likely to be in agreement with the statement than groups under age 65 (62% vs. 51%).  Only 18% of the older group disagreed.
  • Agreement with the statement decreases with income, ranging from 67% for those with incomes less than $25K to 40% for those with incomes of $75K or more.  Similarly, 15% of lower income adults (under $25K) disagreed compared to 32% of those with higher incomes ($75K or more).
  • Agreement also decreases with education level ranging from 59% for those with only a high school education to 52% for those with some college and 43% of those who had completed college.  One-in-five (19%) of the less educated group disagreed with the statement compared to 24% of the more educated segment.

The Porter Novelli omnibus was conducted by International Communications Research.  The margin of error is +/- 3%.