The analysis of tweets discussing CRISPR from 2013 to 2019 shows that public enthusiasm for genome editing has cooled a bit, and that’s physiological. As you can see below, a bioRxiv paper associates peaks of strong negative sentiments with specific events.
They are edited human embryos (peak a and c), the patent fight won by the Broad Institute (peak b), media reactions to an hypothetical cancer link (peak d), the breaking news about CRISPR babies born in China (peak e) and biohackers encoding a malware program into a strand of DNA (peak f).
Curiously enough, the latest event fueled the most negative tweets, but it was not fresh news, and it’s not really about CRISPR. Social media are fickle beasts, and it would be naïve to think that Twitter is representative of the population at large. So let’s keep calm and CRISPR on.