Just last week, scientists reported a new first in the journal Nature: They edited heritable cells in human embryos to treat an inherited form of heart disease. The day after the research was published, a group of genetics experts published a statement calling for further debate before applications of the technology are taken any further in humans.
According to a new survey of 1,600 adults published in the journal Science today, much of the American public shares this desire for engagement in decision-making.
Led by Dietram Scheufele, a professor of science communication at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the study found that while support for gene editing applications varies, a majority of respondents think the public should be consulted before genome editing is used in humans.
Gene editing presents the potential for remarkable benefits.
But it also raises some serious ethical questions, especially when we turn our attention to tweaking the human genome. Many people find some applications — like disease treatment — valuable, and others — like making your children more intelligent — morally shaky.
These and other ethical concerns go beyond the bounds of science, and poll results show that the public wants to be involved in the debate.