Most Americans Want Scientists to Leave Animals the Way God Made Them — Except Mosquitoes

When asked about five ways that science can use genetic engineering on animals, many Americans express a reticence to mess with nature or “God’s plan.”

Except when it comes to mosquitoes.

A new survey released today by the Pew Research Center finds 7 in 10 Americans support genetically engineering mosquitoes to limit their reproduction, which would slow the spread of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. Evangelicals were equally supportive of the idea (69%), and Catholics even more so (75%).

Pew asked more than 2,500 Americans their views on five uses of animal biotechnology currently in development or newly on the market. While evangelicals were on the same page as other Americans about mosquitoes, they were more reluctant to support any of the other uses than the general public. Meanwhile, Catholics tended to be more supportive.

Overall, most respondents showed clear favor for using genetic engineering to improve human health. For example, 57 percent of Americans support using genetic engineering to grow human organs in animals for transplant, as do 49 percent of evangelicals.

Pew found that fewer highly committed evangelicals (43%) felt using animals as human organ donors was an appropriate use of biotechnology compared to evangelicals with medium levels of commitment (51%). (Pew identifies highly religious Americans as those who attend services weekly, pray daily, and say religion is very important in their lives.)

Americans were less supportive of genetically engineering animals to improve the nutrition of meat for human consumption, to bring back extinct animals, or to create aquarium fish that glow. One outlier: evangelicals with medium levels of commitment (91%) were more likely to say engineering glowing fish would be taking the technology too far than those with high levels of commitment (84%).

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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Rebecca Randall