Public awareness & perceptions of genetics and genomics



Technology used in genetic and genomic research are slowly making their way from research to patients and consumers. This raises ethical, legal and social questions for both individuals and society. We asked 11,000 people in 11 countries about new and emerging technologies. On average, half of respondents were familiar with genetics and DNA. But despite saying they had heard or read about it, a large majority of them said that there is a need for better public understanding of genetics and genomics. Want to know more? Read our report! 

As part of the SIENNA project, the University of Twente commissioned Kantar, an independent research organisation, to conduct a survey to assess public awareness and perceptions of artificial intelligence and robotics, human enhancement, and genomics.

Telephone surveys of around 1,000 adults were conducted in 7 EU countries (France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden) and 4 non-EU countries (Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, USA).

Key findings

  • The survey results suggest public acceptability of research using human embryos depend on the purpose of the experiments. A majority of respondents in all countries said the practice is acceptable for the purpose of better understanding how to treat or cure health conditions, but thought it was unacceptable to use human embryos for any purpose or to understand how to increase human intelligence.
  • There were large variations between countries. Two thirds of respondents in Germany and South Korea self-reported having heard or read a lot about genetics and DNA, compared to just the one third in South Africa, Poland and Spain. When asked true-or-false questions about genetics, South Koreans and South Africans were most likely to get the answers wrong.
  • On the topic of genetic screening at birth, South African respondents were very positive whereas German respondents were very negative.
  • A majority of respondents in all countries were hesitant towards prenatal genetic testing, as terminations of pregnancies due to genetic test results might affect the acceptance of disabled people in a negative way. And with increased uptake of prenatal genetic testing, future parents might feel pressure to have genetic tests done on their unborn babies. 

Download the report

Explore SIENNA results (Link removed)





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Disclaimer: This website and its contents reflects only SIENNA's view. The Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.