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SIENNA D2.5: Public views on genetics, genomics and gene editing in 11 EU and non-EU countries

Tim Hanson

Heidi Carmen Howard; Emilia Niemiec; Javier Prieto Valls; Marie Prudhomme; Oliver Greene; George Spedding

Based on a telephone survey of 1,000 people in each of 11 countries (EU: France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden; non-EU: Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, USA), this report provides a snapshot of awareness, understanding and opinions on human genetics and genomics in 2019. Most respondents, in all countries, had at least heard of both genetics or DNA and gene editing in humans. However, there was variation between countries in the proportion of respondents who said they had seen or heard a lot or a fair amount about these areas. The majority of respondents in all countries felt that it was important for people tounderstand more about genetics or DNA. Opinions regarding experimenting on human embryos differed based onthe purpose of the research. Generally, it was thought of as unacceptable to carry out research on human embryos for ‘any purpose’ or to ‘increase human intelligence’. However, the majority of respondents thought thiswould be acceptable if the purpose of this research was to understand ‘how to treat or cure severe health conditions. Respondents were split on whether researchers understood the health risks and benefits of changing an unborn baby’s DNA, as well as on who should be responsible for decision making about how genetic technologies are used. Opinions varied between countries on whether all babies should have their all DNAanalysed at birth. In some countries, a majority agreed with this statement and in other countries, a majority disagreed with the statement. In all countries, a majority of respondents agreed that the termination of pregnancies as a result of genetic tests would lead to disabled people becoming less accepted in society, and that parents would come to feel pressured to have genetic tests on their unborn babies if the practice becomes more common.

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