Survey: EU citizens reject genetic engineering of wild species with Gene Drives

Should humanity release genetically engineered gene drive organisms into nature? The response of a majority of citizens in eight European countries is: “No, the risks are too high”. This first opinion poll on the subject shows high levels of rejection (46% – 70%) and very low levels of support (7% – 16%) for the use of Gene Drive technology in the environment. The survey amongst nearly 9.000 people is representative of 280 million EU citizens. It was commissioned by nine NGOs demanding an informed and inclusive public debate and a global moratorium on the environmental release of this new type of genetically modified organisms. The survey also reveals that a large proportion of respondents is still undecided (14% – 27%) or did not know how to answer (1% – 24%).

“Such a powerful technology with potentially irreversible consequences for wild species and all their ecosystems must be controlled by strict international rules and procedures of decision making. We do not believe that the release of gene drive organisms from the lab into the environment should happen at all. At least, it would require strict international standards of risk and technology assessment and a prior inclusive, democratic decision making based on precaution and the prior informed consent of all peoples and states potentially affected” states Mareike Imken from Save Our Seeds, Germany, who coordinates the European Stop Gene Drive campaign.”

A large majority of respondents (65%-82%) agree that environmental releases of gene drive organisms should be postponed until there is scientific proof that their release would not harm biodiversity, human health, agriculture or peace. A similar majority (61% – 85%) agrees that the authorisation of environmental releases of gene drive organisms that could spread globally should require a global consensus.

This representative survey was conducted by the international market research institute YouGov and polled 8.826 citizens, from 8 EU countries, including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and Bulgaria in December 2020. It was commissioned by WeMove Europe, Save Our Seeds (Germany), Skiftet (Sweden), France Nature Environnement (FNE) (France), POLLINIS (France), OGM Dangers (France), Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) (Germany), Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) (Germany), Umweltinstitut München (Germany), Za Zemiata (Bulgaria).


Download Press Release | PDF

Download YouGov Results Gene-Drive Opinion Poll | PDF

Download Gene Drive Acceptance Survey – A graphic overview of the results | PDF

Further information

EU-wide petition for global gene drive moratorium

Open letter by 78 european organizations to the EU Commission calling for a global gene drive moratorium

Open letter by over 200 organizations worldwide calling for global gene drive moratorium

Resolution of the European Parliament for a global gene drive moratorium