We are so happy at this point to have completed three of our five focus groups, and oh yes, did they raise some extremely, extraordinary subjects. We knew this was a deeply controversial subject matter, and right in the middle of a global pandemic where information is coming at us from all sides. However, I don’t think we were expecting some of the conversations that emerged as a result of our questions.
But we have been forced to reconsider some of our assumptions about what way people would respond to our 5 questions. We always knew gene editing would be a contentious subject matter, but to what degree, we had no idea. Our process is also timely given the report coming out by the WHO on gene editing, so an interesting moment to be in. Not to give too much away but subjects raised included (adaptation rather than editing, letting the human species die off, the impact of gene editing on developing countries, women, LBGT+, black communities, the recreation of a slave class in space, webbed feet, homogenous humanity).
What we have been surprised at is how well the focus group sessions have run on Zoom, we know ‘in person’ would be better, the dynamics of conversation, the opportunity for more playful or artistic interactions is not really possible online, but nevertheless the discussions have run exceptionally well. And because we haven’t needed to focus on a local group to bring together, we’ve had participants attend from around the world, from as far as Tokyo, to next door in Ireland.
Now for the final two focus groups, which we hope to have completed by the end of July, fingers crossed.