Public Perceptions of Genetic Testing

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Author: Ha, Dung
There are many risks and concerns accompanied with the benefits of big data in genomics science. In a recent poll conducted by the Huntington Post and YouGov organization on the DNA breakthroughs, the majority of Americans (38%) is excited about the main scientific breakthroughs on human, plant and animal DNA (YouGov, 2014). However, many of them are concerned about the privacy and ethics of genetic research. 34% of the surveyors strongly disapproved of scientists using DNA and cloning technology to bring woolly mammoths and other extinct species back to life (YouGov, 2014). 52% strongly disapproved of scientists using research on human DNA to produce children with unusually high intelligence or other special attributes (YouGov, 2014). Lastly, 35-37% of American surveyors are very worried about that scientists may begin to 'play God' (YouGov, 2014). What can these statistics tell us? Apparently, they point out to us that there is a clear distrust between the public and the experts (the scientists). Also, there is a high level of risk perception on genetic/genomic technology among the public. Bioscientists, social scientists, policymakers and other experts in the field are working hard to bringing genomics technology from the lab setting into the real healthcare system; however, they seem to miss or ignore the public's desires and opinions in this issue. Therefore, this paper will review the genomics literature and the impacts of genetic testing among the public, and conduct a survey among Simon Fraser University students as a sample representing the populations of British Columbia to explore the public perceptions on multiple themes of the knowledge and attitude of the public towards genetic testing and government legislation regulating; the impact of genetic technologies on women; the health system implications; the privacy concerns over genetic information including access, control and trust; and the ethical implications of genetic testing.
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