Who should have a say? Public perspectives of regulation and policy development surrounding human genome editing
Claire Holesovsky – University of Wisconsin-Madison. United States
Dominique Brossard – University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
Dietram Scheufele – University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
Michael Xenos – University of Wisconsin-Madison United States
Applications of human genome editing have raised moral and ethical concerns. Toward that end, the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a 2016 consensus report calling for broader public dialogue and requiring societal decision-making. Inclusive public dialogue and meaningful public involvement in policymaking about applications of emerging technologies require a clear understanding of how the public views their own role, and that of other stakeholders and organizations, in these decisions. Our research examines factors that predict public acceptance of various stakeholder involvement in regulation and policy formation around human genome editing to better represent the interests of various publics. We analyzed data from a representative survey of 1,600 U.S. adults and a response rate of 41.7 percent. Respondents were asked whether 11 different stakeholder groups should have a say in regulation development. Results identify multiple factors that predict an individual’s views as to which stakeholder groups they want to be involved, such as religiosity, science knowledge, and deference to scientific authority. We find that religiosity relates to approval of “citizens” stakeholder group involvement where more religious individuals tend to favor the “citizens” stakeholder group having a say in human genome editing regulation development. In addition, individuals who are more deferent to scientific authority are more likely to want involvement from both scientific and non-scientific experts. Our results suggest that across multiple publics, there is a desire to include a variety of stakeholders in decisions about human genome editing regulations. We discuss implications of our results applied to regulation formation procedures for both human genome editing and future controversial technology. By understanding factors that influence public views on emerging technology regulation, we can work toward better and more effective communication, especially as decisions regarding the regulatory and technological aspects of human genome editing become more imperative.
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