The UK public is largely comfortable with the idea of using gene-editing approaches to prevent genetic disorders from being passed down from parent to child, according to a new survey commissioned by the Royal Society. The report found that about three quarters of respondents supported such use of genetic technologies.
"That's a very dramatic result," Robin Lovell-Badge from the Francis Crick Institute and chair of the Royal Society's genetic technologies program tells the Guardian.
The survey asked 2,061 people about their thoughts on genetic technologies and their potential applications for use on humans, animals, and plants. More in-depth interviews were also conducted.
Most respondents, 83 percent, said using genome editing to treat currently incurable life-threatening conditions like muscular dystrophy would be helpful for society, while 82 percent said it could be used to treat patients with diseases like leukemia for which there are other treatments and 73 percent said it could be applied to treat conditions that aren't life threatening like arthritis.
Despite their optimism, respondents also had concerns about genetic technology and its potential uses. They were less comfortable with its use to make cosmetic changes, such as altering eye or hair color, or to influence intelligence, with a respective 69 percent and 60 percent opposed to such applications.
"Simply making carrots look pretty, or animals look pretty, they didn't really support," Lovell-Badge adds at the Guardian. "There has to be a sensible reason for the public to think this is an appropriate use of the technology."