In the joint study “Public views on gene editing and its uses” with Professor George Gaskell from the London School of Economics and 24 co-authors, we investigated public opinion on the use of gene editing in somatic human cells. The survey was financed by the European Commission as part of the “Neuroenhancement, responsible research and innovation” study and the results were published in November’s edition of the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology.
For the online study, respondi recruited more than 1.000 women and men over the age of 18 and from 11 different countries to elicit judgments about gene editing using the contrastive vignette method. Based on brief descriptions of selected situations (so called vignettes) which were systematically varied, the participants were asked to decide whether gene editing was morally acceptable or unacceptable. Following, they also had to state whether they would make the same choice in the situation described.
The result: Gene editing for the therapy of a disease meets with more acceptance in all 11 countries than the use of genetic modification to purely enhance cognitive abilities. Similarly, there is greater support across all countries for intervention on adults than prenatals.