Press Release, May 26, 2016
76% of the French are against using CRISPR-Cas9 for human genome-editing
On Tuesday, May 24, 2016 Alliance VITA teams informed and warned the public with their national citizen campaign “Stop GM Babies”. Launched simultaneously in 75 cities throughout France, this campaign is meant to inform and alert citizens about the ethical and human challenges related to the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology.
Most passersby were both surprised by and interested in the documents and explanations provided by Alliance VITA volunteers. It is the first time that an association takes to the streets to discuss the CRISPR-Cas9 issue with citizens. This major discovery is currently turning the scientific and biotechnological research world up-side down. The applications of this technology demand a citizen debate and at the same time, a real investment on the part of public authorities.
On the same day, Alliance VITA released the results of the opinion poll “French citizens and the CRISPR-Cas9 technology» which was performed on May 19-20 by IFOP. Ninety-one per cent of the surveyed people had not yet heard about this technology. If 76% of the French are in favour of using CRISPR-Cas9 for patients in the treatment of hereditary diseases, they are as many people (76%) who are against using the technology to perform in vitro modifications on human embryos. Sixty-seven per cent of the individuals interviewed declared being concerned and the same proportion (68%) think France should take an action to demand international regulations for human genome-editing (DNA). The results of this opinion poll is a confirmation that the warning launched by Alliance VITA is well timed
In addition to the information campaign carried out throughout the country, Alliance VITA invites all individuals to visit a dedicated website : Stop Bébé OGM in order to better understand what is at stake and to take part in the debate. The catchphrase “Yes to therapeutic progress – no to human transgenic embryos” gives a fair idea of Alliance VITA’s request : they are willing to encourage therapeutic perspectives and at the same time warning against the dangers of experiments which are particularly dangerous for humanity.
This is why Alliance VITA is simultaneously launching a call to sign the petition: “Stop GM Babies” on the web site Change.org. As the General Delegate for the association, Tugdual Derville confirms the need for this call, “On such a major subject, it is essential that everyone’s voice should be heard. The exponential mutations in biotechnology have brought major social and political challenges. It must not be left to specialists who are inevitably judge and jury.
Due to its tradition, France is expected to have a different viewpoint on bioethical subjects as compared to other countries which are rushing into the commodification of the human body. At a time when politicians are busy with other subjects, and sometimes obsessed with electoral prospects, we wish to remind our government officials that their role is to protect humanity from a few sorcerers’ apprentices whose Promethean ambition could put us all in danger.
Whereas many individuals view biotechnological developments as a cause for concern and uneasiness, we want to reaffirm our support to scientists and researchers, particularly in the possible therapeutic applications thanks to Crispr-Cas9 technology; yet we are opposed to transgenic embryos produced from scratch, as already implemented in China and more recently in Great Britain.”
The next step in this campaign is set for the end of June. Alliance VITA will address the three recipients of the call* requesting that France should undertake action to secure a moratorium for all applications of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology on reproductive cells and human embryos. There will be more calls to action in the following weeks in other cities of France and on social networks.
*The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, the Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Marisol Touraine, and the Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem