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Biotechnology

Americans are okay with gene-editing embryos to create healthier babies

The US public approves of gene-tailored babies but fears that the wealthy will use the technology first, leading to inequality.

The survey: The Pew Research Center asked 2,537 US adults how they felt about changing the genetic characteristics of babies using gene-editing tools.

Wide public support: Surprise. Seven out of 10 people said they think changing a baby’s genes is an appropriate use of technology, but only if it’s to treat or avoid a serious disease.

But only for healthy tots: When asked, only 20 percent thought making “more intelligent” humans would be acceptable. Most believed that using gene editing to increase intelligence would be taking things “too far.”

Top fear: Americans may be generally okay with genetically modified babies, but they still think negative results are more likely than positive ones. Survey respondents ranked inequality as their top worry. More than half think it’s “very likely” that gene-edited babies will only be available to the wealthy.

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CRISPR for high cholesterol: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

New forms of the gene-editing tool could enable treatments for common diseases.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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