Most Americans Think Editing the Human Genome Is Okay
In a survey published today in Science, two-thirds of people polled believe that using gene-editing technology to modify human cells was "acceptable." The survey (PDF, sub required), which was carried out by researchers at the University of Wisonsin in Madison and Temple University, presented 1,600 people with various hypothetical use cases for genome editing technology. For example, it asked how people felt about modifying DNA in human germ-line cells, which can be passed down to future generations, versus genes in somatic cells, which aren't.
In general, most respondents frowned on germ-line editing, with just 26 percent of people in support of it, versus 39 percent endorsing editing of somatic cells. That fits with the results of previous surveys, which have shown that people don't generally like the idea of creating "designer babies" or genetically enhanced humans that pass down their artificial advantages to their offspring.
Opinions were much more favorable toward people editing their own bodies—59 percent of survey participants said that would be fine, whether it meant altering DNA to cure a disease, or even for some kind of enhancement.