What is it about?

This study is about the opinions of South Africans on heritable human genome editing (HHGE). The study used a deliberative public engagement (DPE) methodology, meaning that participants were informed about HHGE and discussions among them were facilitated to gain agreement.

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Why is it important?

This study is the first such study in Africa. The main results are: If HHGE is safe and effective, a very large majority of participants supported using it to prevent serious genetic health conditions and to promote immunity against illnesses such as TB and HIV/Aids, while significant majorities opposed allowing HHGE for enhancement, such as altering appearance and intelligence.


The critical issue during the deliberations was balancing health benefits and associated improvements in quality of life with unforeseen health risks such as loss of natural immunity. South Africans were not motivated by abstract concerns such as "preserving the human genome". They were more concerned with concrete issues, namely the seriousness of a health condition. Equal access to HHGE as a healthcare service was an important value for South Africans. It was also universally agreed that the South African government should allocate resources to promote scientific research into HHGE.

Donrich Thaldar
University of KwaZulu-Natal

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A deliberative public engagement study on heritable human genome editing among South Africans: Study results, PLoS ONE, November 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275372.
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