Public concerns and worries about gene editing: A global perspective
May 4th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Public concerns and worries about gene editing: A global perspective

As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, it brings with it a myriad of opportunities and challenges. While the benefits of new technologies are undeniable, concerns over the impact of these advancements on society are growing. From the risks of AI and ethical concerns about gene editing to fears over privacy and data security in the metaverse, consumers around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the potential downsides of technological progress. 

In a new YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll, we explore what technological advances global consumers are most worried about and to what extent. More than two out of three consumers globally say they’re worried about the organized spread of false information on social media (68%) followed by more than half who are worried about jobs being taken over by robots (51%).

While almost a fifth of consumers globally are ‘very worried’ about gene editing (19%), more than a quarter say they are ‘somewhat worried’ (27%) about this technological advancement in the world of health and medicine. Gene editing (genome editing) is a group of technologies that gives scientists the ability to add, remove or alter an organism's genetic material. It is of special interest in the prevention and treatment of human diseases and is currently used in cells and animal models in research labs to understand diseases. However, with scientists across the world still working to determine whether this approach is safe and effective for use in people, there are on-going debates about the safety and ethics of using gene therapy, genome editing of germline cells, and its impact on health inequality.

Interestingly, even though nearly a third of consumers indicate their worries about the metaverse (29%), more than one out eight say they simply do not know about this technology (17%).

Taking a closer look at consumers who are either ‘very worried’ or ‘somewhat worried’ about gene editing by market reveals some interesting differences.

Significantly outpacing not just the global average but also all other polled markets, nearly three-quarters of consumers in Indonesia registered their concerns about the advancements in gene editing (71%). While more than five out of ten consumers in India (55%), Singapore (52%) and Australia (51%) share the same concerns, other markets in the APAC region line up closely with the global numbers.

Three out five consumers in Mexico (61%) say they are worried about gene editing, unlike their North American neighbors in the US (44%) and Canada (43%).

Much like their counterparts in India, more than half of consumers in the UAE (54%) are worried about gene editing.

More than four out of ten consumers in Germany (48%), Poland (45%) and Great Britain (40%) feel the same way. However, consumers across other European markets are not as likely to share the same concern – especially Sweden (34%), France (32%) and Italy (28%). However, this is in part could be due to the lack of awareness and knowledge about this technology – a significant proportion of our respondents in France, Italy and Sweden say they do not know about gene editing (21%, 19% and 16% respectively).

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 512 and 2,007 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in March 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Photo by Sangharsh Lohakare on Unsplash