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Attitudes of university students in Hong Kong about the use of genomic science and technology

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Objective: This study aims at exploring university students' attitudes towards the application of genomic science and technology (GST) and the rationales behind their judgments. Background: With the rapid advances in GST, its wide application will become common in the near future. Since understanding the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of GST is important for its sustained development, understanding public attitude towards GST application is critical for its acceptance in Hong Kong society. Participants: Cantonese speaking undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University of Hong Kong (HKU-students). Methods: The study consisted of two parts. Part 1 was a survey of 400 HKU-students recruited at the library entrance and the written questionnaires were completed immediately. Part 2 comprised semi-structured interviews of 65 of the 400 HKU-students surveyed in Part 1 and each was interviewed individually. Conclusions: In Part 1, HKU-students had “neutral” responses for most themes, and Part 2 showed that the “neutrality” was primarily caused by opposing opinions of proponents and opponents in each theme. HKU-students had a negative attitude towards human genetic enhancement and were worried about GM food, genetic discrimination, and misuses of genetic information. The study did not support “the deficit model” but confirmed the “particularistic” view that endorsement of a GST application is determined by specific contextual factors.
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Keywords: GM food; ethical, legal, and social implications; genetic enhancement; genetic information; genomic science and technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Medical Ethics Unit, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine,University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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