Poll “French citizens and the CRISPR-Cas9 technology”
IFOP – May 2016 with Alliance VITA
Translation : Alliance VITA
Link to original French version :
Comments by Jérôme Fourquet, Director of the Strategy and Opinion department at the poll institute Ifop.
1) – Visibility of CRISPR-Cas9
Question: Have you already heard about the CRISPR-Cas9 technology?
The CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology is hardly known as yet which could explain why there is practically no public debate concerning the recourse to this technology. Only 9% of the French declare having already heard about it and 3% assert understanding what it is about. Even among those with a higher education (12%) and free-lance professionals and executives, who are traditionally better informed, the level of knowledge is very low.
CRISPR-Cas9 technique allows to modify rapidly and cheaply DNA of all plant, animal or human cell. Currently, it concerns all fields of activity (agriculture, medicine, research, industry).
When applied to patients, this technique could improve scientific knowledge about cell functioning, and develop treatment for genetically inherited diseases.
It can also be applied to human embryos, to create genetically modified babies. Long before the baby was born, it could be possible to ablate or modify a disease-related gene, or to add a different gene to modify the human embryos with new characteristics and selected criteria.
These modifications would be transferable to future generations.
CRISPR-Cas9 applications on human embryos, germline or adult cells, are still being developed and show that uncontrolled reactions can appear.
2)- Willingness to use CRISPR-Cas9 on individuals suffering from hereditary diseases
Question: Would you be for or against the use of this technology on adults or children suffering from a hereditary disease in the context of genetic therapy to cure them or improve the quality of their life?
3) – Willingness to use CRISPR-Cas9 to perform in vitro modifications on human embryos
Question : And would you be for or against the use of this technology to perform in vitro modifications on human embryos ?
Once explained and presented to the persons interviewed, this genetic technology creates very contrasted opinions. Seventy-six percent of the French would be favorable to using CRISPR-Cas9 on adults or children suffering from a hereditary disease in the context of genetic therapy to cure them or to improve the quality of their life. But on the other hand, exactly the same proportion (76%) were against (with 40% very much against) to having recourse to this technology to perform in vitro genetic modifications on human embryos. However there is no real inconsistency and the results of the survey show that while this technology raises hopes and can be seen positively in the context of therapy for people suffering from serious diseases, society clearly bans genome-editing of human embryos, and sees it as an open door to eugenics.
4)- Willingness to use CRISPR-Cas9 to modify one’s own embryo in vitro
Question: And would you be for or against the use of this technology for in vitro genetic modifications of your own embryo?
5) – Concern regarding the acceleration of scientific modifications on the human genome
Question : Would you say that you are concerned or not regarding the acceleration of scientific modifications on the human genome ?
6) – Expectation regarding France’s role in establishing regulations for DNA modifications
Question: Do you think that France should commit to requesting international regulations for this practice of human genome-editing (DNA)?