Who’s talking about non-human Genome Editing? Mapping public discussion in the UK.

Robert Smith, Gabrielle Natalie Samuel

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract / Description of output

A cluster of new techniques to modify the genomes of organisms has captured the attention of scientists, other experts and the specialised press. The techniques, commonly referred to as Genome Editing, have spread rapidly throughout the life sciences. Many suggest that they offer revolutionary new applications.

Prominent scientists, social scientists and policy organisations have called for public discussion of the ethical, societal and environmental dimensions of Genome Editing. These calls build on historical experience with biotechnologies, which recognises that debate is vital for the development and successful deployment of novel science, technologies and innovations in democratic societies. This debate must be connected to policy, either through direct participation of diverse public groups or through broad-ranging expert representatives.

However, with respect to Genome Editing, it is not clear to what extent calls for debate have been acted upon or how they might interface with existing forms discussion in the life sciences. The Wellcome Trust is currently funding research to map Genome Editing and public discussion in human health contexts. This document is complementary and begins a preliminary mapping of public discussion and engagement of Genome Editing in non-human contexts.
The review takes a broad perspective of public discussion to identify both formal and informal spaces. This includes parliamentary inquiries, attitude surveys and Public Dialogues but also news reporting, search frequencies, social media spread and physical public events.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Commissioning bodySciencewise
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Public Participation
  • Genome editing
  • Public Engagement
  • science and technology studies (STS)


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