CGS Summary of Public Opinion Polls

Opinion Poll Chart

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

Biotechnology Australia

Human cloning: morally acceptable?

-

87

Jan 2003

Americans

Gallup

Cloning designed specifically to produce a child should be (il)legal

11

86

Jan 2003

European Union 15

EOS Gallup Europe

Do you (dis)agree with reproductive cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human beings?

5

93

Jan 2003

EU 13 candidate countries

EOS Gallup Europe

Do you (dis)agree with reproductive cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human beings?

12

81

Jan 2003

Canadians

Leger Marketing

Are you for or against
the cloning of human beings?

5

84

Late 2002

Danes

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

-

85

Late 2002

Mexicans

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

-

~50

Late 2002

Taiwanese

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

-

79

Late 2002

Turks

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

-

~50

Late 2002

UK

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

-

79

Late 2002

Americans

Discovery Channel

Governments should ban cloning?

22

77

October 2002

Americans

Genetics and Public Policy Center

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

CBS News

Should scientists be allowed to clone humans?

11

85

May 2002

Americans

Gallup

Do you favor or oppose cloning that is designed specifically to result in the birth of a human being?

8

90

May 2002

Americans

Gallup

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

Pew

Do you favor or oppose scientific experimentation on the cloning of human beings?

17

77

Feb 2002

Americans

Fox News

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

Biotechnology Australia

Human cloning: morally acceptable?

-

82

Nov / Dec 2001

Americans

Ipsos-Reid

Choose a preferred policy.

21

72

Nov 2001

Americans

CNN / USA Today / Gallup

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

ABC News

Do you think it should be legal or illegal to clone humans in the United States?

11

87

Aug 2001

Canadians

Leger Marketing

Are you for or against
the cloning of human beings?

8

89

July 2001

Americans

Zogby

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

Time / CNN

Good idea or bad idea to clone human beings?

7

90

Feb 2001

Americans

Time / CNN

Do you think scientists should be allowed to clone human beings or don't you think so?

10

88

March 2000

Canadians

Pricewater-houseCoopers

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

CTV / Angus Reid

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

Harris

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

Time / CNN

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

EOS Gallup Europe

Do you (dis)agree with therapeutic cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human cells?

55

43

Jan 2003

EU 13 candidate countries

EOS Gallup Europe

Do you (dis)agree with therapeutic cloning, meaning the identical reproduction of human cells?

44

47

Jan 2003

Canadians

Leger Marketing

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

Gallup

Do you favor or oppose cloning of human embryos for use in medical research?

34

61

April 2002

Americans

Stop Human Cloning

Do you think it is wrong to create human embryos for medical research?

-

59

April 2002

Americans

Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research

Favor the government allowing scientists to do therapeutic cloning research to produce stem cells for treating life-threatening diseases

68

26

April 2002

Americans

Americans to Ban Cloning

Do you agree with Bush's position?

29

63

April 2002

Americans

Americans to Ban Cloning

Agree with person 1 vs. 2.

26

59

Nov / Dec 2001

Americans

Ipsos-Reid

Choose a preferred policy.

60

33

Nov 2001

Americans

CNN / USA Today / Gallup

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

ABC News

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

Leger Marketing

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

Zogby

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

Novartis

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

CTV / Angus Reid

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

Biotechnology Australia

Correction of genetic disorders for embryos: morally acceptable?

79

-

Late 2002

Brazilians

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

82

Late 2002

Danes

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

97

Late 2002

Mexicans

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

76

Late 2002

Poles

Discovery Channel

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

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

~67

Late 2002

Turks

Discovery Channel

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

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

92

Late 2002

Americans

Discovery Channel

Parents should be allowed to use gene technology to 'design' a baby to satisfy their personal, cultural or aesthetic desires

-

87

October 2002

Americans

Genetics and Public Policy Center

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

Genetics and Public Policy Center

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

Biotechnology Australia

Correction of genetic disorders for embryos: morally acceptable?

74

-

Feb 2001

Americans

Time / CNN

Does creating genetically superior human beings justify creating a human clone or don't you think so?

6

92

Fall 2000

Scots

System Three

Are opposed to the creation of "designer babies" for any reason other than to stop hereditary illnesses.

 -

~90

Fall 2000

Scots

System Three

are prepared to accept "born-to-order" babies for medical reasons

42

  -

March 2000

Canadians

Pricewater-houseCoopers

Find genetic engineering to change the eye colour or other physical features of an unborn child unacceptable.

-

74

March 2000

Canadians

Pricewater-houseCoopers

Find it acceptable for scientists to use biotechnology to cure an inherited medical condition or to decrease the risk of illness.

> 50

  -

1996

Americans

NCGR

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

NCGR

How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?

35

-

1994

Japanese

Macer

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

Macer

How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?

28

-

1994

Australians

Macer

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

Macer

How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?

28

 -

Dec 1993

Americans

Time / CNN

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

March of Dimes

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

March of Dimes

How do you feel about scientists changing the makeup of human cells to improve the physical characteristics children would inherit?

43

54

1986

Americans

OTA

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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