What Do Americans Think of Genetic Engineering?
USA — August 20, 2018
The recently published by Pew Research Center statistics on what do Americans think of genetically modifying animals and other creatures, so they can serve the interests of humanity, has drawn attention to a number of controversial issues.
As it came out, the survey’s most widely accepted use of genetic intervention of animals involves mosquitoes. Seems like about 70 % of Americans who chose that option are really annoyed by these insects and don’t mind if they are “genetically modified”: Americans want mosquitoes to be changed the way they can’t reproduce and don’t spread mosquito-borne diseases. At the same time, about one-third of the respondents don’t want to intervene into mosquito DNA, stating “the technologies have gone too far”.
More than a half of Americans (57 %), according to the survey, think it’s logical to genetically engineer animals, so they can help donate organs or tissues for people needing a transplant.
However other uses of animal biotechnology are less acceptable to the public, including the creation of more nutritious meat for human consumption: less than a half of respondents (43% say this is appropriate) support it. Restoring an extinct animal species from a closely related species is supported only by one-third of Americans: 32% say this is appropriate.
And one application that is already commercially available is largely met with resistance: just 21% of Americans consider it an appropriate use of technology to genetically engineer aquarium fish to glow using a fluorescence gene, while 77% say this is taking technology too far.
There also are differences between men and women in America, when they answer the same questions on genetic engineering issues: for example, about two-thirds of men (65%) see genetic engineering of animals to grow human organs or tissues for transplants as appropriate, compared with about half of women (49%).
Also, it depends on the level of education, since about 72 % of Americans would call it an appropriate thing to do, whilst those who have “medium” (55 %) and “low” science knowledge would never accept it.
The answer to this question also depended on the religious commitment of a particular respondent: almost 70 % of those who consider themselves “not-religious” would approve the tests and experiments conducted, whilst those who go to church every Sunday would say “no” to this in the vast majority of cases.
Those who support genetic-engineering, state, that «through the addition, removal, or alteration of genes, scientists can pinpoint what a gene does by observing the biological systems that are affected. While some genetic alterations have no obvious effect, others may produce different phenotypes that can be used by researchers to understand the function of the affected genes. Genetic engineering has enabled the creation of human disease models that were previously unavailable. Animal models of human disease are valuable resources for understanding how and why a particular disease develops, and what can be done to halt or reverse the process. As a result, efforts have focused on developing new genetically engineered animal models of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, and cancer»
At the same time, Greenpeace activists and other anti-genetic engineering groups wouldn’t agree even with slight intervention to the DNA of different creatures, even if we consider the fact this would only be poor and vulnerable mosquitoes.
«GMOs should not be released into the environment since there is not an adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health… - Greenpeace activists state. - We advocate immediate interim measures such as clear and straightforward labelling of GE ingredients and the segregation of genetically engineered crops and seeds from conventional ones. We also oppose all patents on plants, animals and humans, as well as patents on their genes. Biology is not an industrial commodity. We should not force life forms and our world's food supply to conform to human economic models».
Thus, this issue stays really controversial for the American societies and the sharp debates are still yet to come.