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CGS Summary of Public Opinion Polls

by CGS Staff
February 4th, 2014

This page offers comparisons of survey results for three technologies: reproductive cloning, research cloning, and inheritable genetic modification.  Clearly, the results vary due to the wording of the questions, populations surveyed, and dates. However, these summaries can reveal some consistent sentiments, as well as how people react to particular words and phrases. Some of the questions have been slightly paraphrased but the verbatim text of the questions, and complete survey reports, can be found by clicking on the links in the 'Conductor' column. Not all results were readily available, and are indicated by a hyphen. (Polls on animal technologies are summarized here.)

The Center for Genetics and Society compiled and analyzed the results of over 50 major public opinion surveys concerning the new human genetic technologies conducted between 1987 and 2014. The results are broken down below.

Narrative Overview

Opinions about reproductive cloning

Opinions about research cloning

Opinions about inheritable genetic modification (IGM)

Quantitative Display

Data on reproductive cloning

Data on research cloning

Data on inheritable genetic modification

Detailed Survey Results


Opinions about Reproductive Cloning

Residents of North America and Europe—the populations most often surveyed—consistently oppose reproductive cloning by majorities of 80% to 90%.

Sentiments among opponents of reproductive cloning are more strongly felt and less likely to change than are those among supporters. Only a small portion of the opposition to cloning is based on perceptions of its physical danger. More often people cite beliefs that it is "morally wrong," "interferes with human distinctiveness and individuality," "could be used for questionable purposes like breeding a superior race," or conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Opposition to reproductive cloning is generally consistent across political persuasions, but—like concern over most other human genetic technologies—increases among women, parents, and minorities, and with age and religious conviction. It decreases with education and income.

Opinions about Research Cloning

Opinions on research cloning are generally negative, but survey results vary depending on the phrasing of the question. Although most indicate that a slight majority of Americans oppose research cloning, opinion is difficult to gauge because the technologies and terminology are not well understood. Not surprisingly, opposition weakens to the extent that the survey questions emphasize saving lives and curing disease, and downplay cloning itself.

Two surveys conducted in the highly politicized American climate in April 2002 illustrate the malleability of the results. A poll sponsored by the conservative anti-choice organization Stop Human Cloning indicated that 59% of Americans oppose the creation of human embryos for medical research, whereas one by the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (which supports research cloning) suggested that 68% support using the technology to create stem cells that may ultimately treat certain diseases.

Gallup no longer asks about research cloning, but does ask annually about "medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos," which is considered morally acceptable 60–32 (2013), 58–33 (2012).

Opinions about Inheritable Genetic Modification (IGM)

Similarly, public opinion on IGM is difficult to assess because of the ambiguity of some of the questions and the terminology used. For example, 92% of Americans oppose using cloning technology to create genetically superior human beings, yet a 1987 survey (the most recent official U.S. government investigation) found that 44% approved of genetically improving children's intelligence or physical characteristics. And as with research cloning, opposition to IGM decreases with increased emphasis on therapy and cures for disease, and increases with emphasis on its non-medical uses.


Reproductive cloning

Date
Population
Conductor
Question
Approve of cloning
Disapprove of cloning
May 2013
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 13
83
Jan 2013
Canada
Angus Reid
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 10
n/a
Jan 2013
Americans
Angus Reid
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 12
n/a
Jan 2013
UK
Angus Reid
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 9
n/a
Jan 2013
Americans
YouGov
Allow scientists to clone Neanderthal?
17
63
Jan 2013
Americans
YouGov
Clone Neanderthal with human surrogate mother?
15
66
Jan 2013
Americans
YouGov
Allow scientists to try cloning humans?
16
66
May 2012
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 10
86
May 2011
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 12
84
May 2010
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 15
80
May 2010
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 9
88
May 2009
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 9
88
Dec 2008
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 17
78
May 2008
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 11
85
Dec 2007
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 16
81
May 2007
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 11
86
Nov 2006
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 17
79
May 2006
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 8
88
Sept 2005
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 15
81
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
Cloning legal (10) or allowed for infertile couples (20) vs. not in foreseeable future (30) or never (30)?
30
60
May 2005
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 9
87
Jan 2005
Australians
Biotechnology Australia
Cloning humans acceptable
11
86
Sept 2004
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 13
83
June 2004
Americans
Charlton Research
Allow research into reproductive cloning? 16
79
2004
UK
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 11
n/a
2004
Canadians
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 8
n/a
May 2004
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 9
88
Sept 2003
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 13
84
Aug 2003
American Teens
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 20
79
May 2003
Americans
Gallup
Human cloning: morally acceptable? 8
90
May 2003
Australians
Human cloning: morally acceptable?
-
87
Jan 2003
Americans
Cloning designed specifically to produce a child should be (il)legal
11
86
Jan 2003
European Union 15
Do you (dis)agree with reproductive cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human beings?
5
93
Jan 2003
EU 13 candidate countries
Do you (dis)agree with reproductive cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human beings?
12
81
Jan 2003
Canadians
Are you for or against
the cloning of human beings?
5
84
Late 2002
Danes
Governments should ban cloning?
-
85
Late 2002
Mexicans
Governments should ban cloning?
-
~50
Late 2002
Taiwanese
Governments should ban cloning?
-
79
Late 2002
Turks
Governments should ban cloning?
-
~50
Late 2002
UK
Governments should ban cloning?
-
79
Late 2002
Americans
Governments should ban cloning?
22
77
October 2002
Americans
Government should have regulations to limit the cloning of humans?
11
84
Sept 2002
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 16
81
May 2002
Americans
Should scientists be allowed to clone humans?
11
85
May 2002
Americans
Do you favor or oppose cloning that is designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being?
8
90
May 2002
Americans
Is it morally acceptable or morally wrong to clone humans?
7
90
April 2002
Americans
Gallup
Favor or oppose a law prohibiting cloning humans?
40
53
April 2002
Americans
Gallup
Favor, oppose, or unsure (25%) about a law prohibiting cloning humans? 36
39
Feb / Mar 2002
Americans
Do you favor or oppose scientific experimentation on the cloning of human beings?
17
77
Feb 2002
Americans
Do you think it is acceptable to use cloning to reproduce humans?
7
89
Jan 2002
Americans NBC / Wall Street Journal Favor an outright ban on the cloning of human beings? 54
39
2002
Australians
Human cloning: morally acceptable?
-
82
Nov / Dec 2001
Americans
Choose a preferred policy.
21
72
Nov 2001
Americans
Do you approve or disapprove of cloning that is designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being?
9
88
Aug / Sept 2001
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Allow cloning or genetically altering of humans? 14
82
Aug 2001
Americans
Do you think it should be legal or illegal to clone humans in the United States?
11
87
Aug 2001
Canadians
Are you for or against
the cloning of human beings?
8
89
July 2001
Americans
Regarding cloning human beings, are you opposed or supportive?
8
90
May 2001
Americans
Gallup
Is it morally acceptable or morally wrong to clone humans? 7
88
April 2001
Americans
Fox News
Do you think it is acceptable to use cloning to reproduce humans?
6
90
Feb 2001
Americans
Good idea or bad idea to clone human beings?
7
90
Feb 2001
Americans
Do you think scientists should be allowed to clone human beings or don't you think so?
10
88
March 2000
Canadians
Are you opposed to scientists making a genetically identical copy of a human being?
-
90
1998
Americans
Gallup
Government's role in cloning: permanent ban (>50%); wait and see (27%); allow research to continue (16%)
Feb 1998
Canadians
I think people should have the freedom, in the future, to clone themselves and have a baby exactly like themselves to raise as their own child.
12
87
Jan 1998
Americans
Fox News
Do you think it is acceptable to use cloning to reproduce humans? 6
89
Jan 1998
Americans
NBC / Wall Street Journal
Favor an outright ban on the cloning of human beings?
36
58
1998
Americans
Yankelovich Partners
Approve of use of cloning to have a twin at a later date?
13
86
Mar 1997
Americans
Fox News
Do you think it is acceptable to use cloning to reproduce humans? 5
89
Feb 1997
Americans
CNN / USA Today / Gallup
Human cloning would be morally wrong
-
88
Feb 1997
Americans CNN / USA Today / Gallup If humans could ever be cloned, it would be a bad thing for humanity
-
87
Feb 1997
Americans ABC
If it becomes possible, should cloning of humans be allowed
10
87
1997
UK
Human cloning should never be allowed and all research should be stopped, or Cloning should be allowed when it becomes possible.
4
72
Dec 1993
Americans
In general, do you think cloning is a good thing or a bad thing to do?
14
75

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Research cloning

Date
Population
Conductor
Question
Approve of cloning
Disapprove of cloning
May 2010
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 55
40
Dec 2008
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 52
47
Dec 2007
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 47
47
2007
Australians
Biotechnology Australia
Using stem cells cloned from the patient's own cells, acceptable?
91
7
Nov 2006
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 45
51
Nov 2006
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology to create human embryos that will provide stem cells for human therapeutic purposes? 35
57
Sept 2005
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 43
51
Sept 2005
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology to create human embryos that will provide stem cells for human therapeutic purposes? 34
59
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
ESCs from cloned embryos acceptable? Always (7), for medical but not cosmetic uses (27), to treat serious (25) diseases or only life-threatening (20); vs. never (9); don't know (11)
Mar 2005
Massa-chusetts N.H. Survey Center
Support stem-cell research using human embryos cloned in a laboratory 42
46
Sept 2004
Americans
VCU Life Sciences Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 42
56
June 2004
Americans
Charlton Research
Allow research into therapeutic cloning? 59
35
Sept 2003
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Morally acceptable to use human cloning technology in developing new treatments for disease? 36
53
Sept 2003
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Use human cloning technology only to help medical research
50
48
Jan 2003
European Union 15
Do you (dis)agree with therapeutic cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human cells?
55
43
Jan 2003
EU 13 candidate countries
Do you (dis)agree with therapeutic cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human cells?
44
47
Jan 2003
Canadians
Are you for or against the cloning of human embryos for the creation of stem cells that could be used in transplants, organ replacements or in the prevention or treatment of diseases that are presently incurable?
53
32
Jan 2003
Americans
L.A. Times
Support complete ban on cloning research (11); support ban except for research on cloned embryos to learn about diseases (41); oppose any law that restricts research into human cloning (43); don't know (5)
Jan 2003
Americans
Gallup
Should be allowed for research
38
59
Oct 2002
Canadians
Ipsos-Reid
Approve creation of cloned human embryos for the sole purpose of collecting stem cells to be used in research 61
37
Sept 2002
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Use human cloning technology only to help medical research 45
51
May 2002
Americans
Do you favor or oppose cloning of human embryos for use in medical research?
34
61
April 2002
Americans
Do you think it is wrong to create human embryos for medical research?
-
59
April 2002
Americans
Favor the government allowing scientists to do therapeutic cloning research to produce stem cells for treating life-threatening diseases
68
26
April 2002
Americans
Do you agree with Bush's position?
29
63
April 2002
Americans
Agree with person 1 vs. 2.
26
59
Nov / Dec 2001
Americans
Choose a preferred policy.
60
33
Nov 2001
Americans
Do you approve or disapprove of cloning that is not designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being, but is designed to aid medical research that might find treatments for certain diseases?
54
41
Aug 2001
Americans
Do you think human cloning for medical treatments should be legal or illegal in the United States?
33
63
Aug 2001
Americans
Gallup
Should federal government fund stem cell research on embryos created by cloning?
28
66
Aug 2001
Canadians
Are you for or against the cloning of human embryos that would allow for the creation of stem cells that could be used in transplants, organ replacements, and for treatment of diseases that are currently incurable?
55
41
July 2001
Americans
Should all cloning research be banned?
-
40
June 2001
Americans
Gallup
Preferred cloning policy: complete ban (42%); cloning only on human embryos (39%); no restrictions (17%)
Mar 2001
Americans
Pew
Allow unrestricted scientific research related to cloning?
13
81
Sept 1999
Americans
Pew
Restricting scientific research on human cloning 57
39
Aug 1999
UK
Do you support or oppose cloning and growing human cells?
28
60
June 1999
Americans
NBC / Wall Street Journal
Banning medical research on cloning
48
47
Sept 1998
Americans
Pew
Restricting scientific research on human cloning
54
45
Feb 1998
Canadians
I think that cloning human beings for such things as replacement body parts, transplants and experimenting with new drugs, if carefully regulated, is not a bad thing.
46
53

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Inheritable genetic modification
(also sex selection and some related issues)

Date
Population
Conductor
Question
Approve of IGM
Disapprove of IGM
Jan 2014
Americans
YouGov
Research to produce children with unusually high intelligence or other special attributes
16
72
Jan 2014
Americans
YouGov
How worried are you that scientific research into human or animal DNA might lead to scientists "playing god" with things that should remain outside the realm of science? Very (35), somewhat (37), not very (15), not at all (4), not sure (10)
Oct 2013
Australians
Roy Morgan
Selecting gender of any child
17
80
Oct 2013
Australians
Roy Morgan
Selecting gender of 2nd or later child
20
80
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
Allow scientists to modify babies' genes? On demand (2), reduce disease risk (26), prevent serious disease (43, never (20), don't know (8)
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
Modify your own future children? To reduce disease risk (43), prevent serious disease(57), improve academics or sports (4), other reasons (3), never (18), don't know (9)
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
PGD to choose donors for sibling
58
22
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
PGD on embryos
51
30
Aug 2005
UK
YouGov
Sex selection
14
77
May 2005
Americans 18–45
Dahl et al.
Would use a hypothetical sex selection pill 18
59
May 2005
Americans 18–45
Dahl et al.
Would use preconception sex selection technology 8
74
Sept 2003
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Changing a baby's genes to reduce risk of serious disease acceptable? 41
54
Sept 2003
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Changing a baby's genes for eye or hair color acceptable?
4
94
April 2003
Australians
Correction of genetic disorders for embryos: morally acceptable?
79
-
Late 2002
Brazilians
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
82
Late 2002
Danes
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
97
Late 2002
Mexicans
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
76
Late 2002
Poles
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
~18
~67
Late 2002
Taiwanese
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
~67
Late 2002
Turks
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
43
53
Late 2002
UK
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
92
Late 2002
Americans
Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires
-
87
October 2002
Americans
Approve if parents offered way to change their own genes in order to have children who would be smarter, stronger, or better looking?
20
76
October 2002
Americans
Approve if parents offered way to change their own genes in order to prevent their children from having a genetic disease?
59
34
Sept 2002
Americans
VCU Life Sciences
Changing a baby's genes for eye or hair color acceptable? 18
79
2002
Australians
Correction of genetic disorders for embryos: morally acceptable?
74
-
Feb 2001
Americans
Does creating genetically superior human beings justify creating a human clone or don't you think so?
6
92
Fall 2000
Scots
Are opposed to the creation of "designer babies" for any reason other than to stop hereditary illnesses.
 -
~90
Fall 2000
Scots
are prepared to accept "born-to-order" babies for medical reasons
42
  -
March 2000
Canadians
Find genetic engineering to change the eye colour or other physical features of an unborn child unacceptable.
-
74
March 2000
Canadians
Find it acceptable for scientists to use biotechnology to cure an inherited medical condition or to decrease the risk of illness.
> 50
  -
1996
Americans
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to prevent/stop children from inheriting a usually nonfatal disease?
72
 -
1996
Americans
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?
35
-
1994
Japanese
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to prevent/stop children from inheriting a usually nonfatal disease?
62
-
1994
Japanese
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?
28
-
1994
Australians
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to prevent/stop children from inheriting a usually nonfatal disease?
79
-
1994
Australians
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?
28
 -
Dec 1993
Americans
Do you approve or disapprove of the use of genetic engineering to make it possible for nations to produce large numbers of individuals with genetically desirable traits?
8
88
1992
Americans
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to prevent/stop children from inheriting a usually nonfatal disease?
66
32
1992
Americans
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?
43
54
1986
Americans
How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?
44
54

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