A survey which was commissioned by the Royal Society discovered that the British public is somewhat in favour of editing human genes to prevent children from inheriting deadly diseases. However, the line was found to be drawn at designer babies and fluorescent fish.
Correct Genetic Diseases Once and for All
The Royal Society survey uncovered that 76% of the 2000 respondents were in favour of using genetic engineering in embryos to prevent children inheriting genetic diseases. This is despite the controversy surrounding such modifications, knowing that any changes made will be passed down to all future generations. While scientists have been able to demonstrate in laboratories that DNA can be repaired if faulty, they’re a relatively long way off from being able to create babies safely.
More research into public opinion needs to be carried out, as if this single survey paints an accurate picture of the public supporting genome editing to prevent disease in children, then scientists may be more emboldened to push for a change to UK law.
Not for Vanity Purposes
The survey by the Royal Society and others demonstrate that UK opinions toward genetic modification are somewhat mixed. While it’s more readily accepted and agreed with in terms of improving human health and the health of animals, a dim view seems to be taken towards using the technology to create fluorescent pet fish for instance. This paints a picture of limited support for genetic modification if it can be proven to provide a genuine benefit to someone’s quality of life. In simple terms, people don’t want to accept the editing of DNA just because it can be done; as with many things, it must serve a purpose.
Genetic engineering doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, and it will be interesting to see how public attitudes shift, or stay the same, as research is continued and the technology improves.