Genetic Databases and Public Attitudes: a Comparison of Iceland, Estonia and the UK


Külliki Korts1, Sue Weldon2, Margrét Lilja Guðmundsdóttir3


1University of Tartu, 2Lancaster University, 3University of Iceland



Abstract. The paper discusses the public perceptions of population based genetic data­bases in the three countries where these plans have been most fully developed – UK, Iceland and Estonia. Drawing on various qualitative and quantitative studies, the article discusses how differences in the context of introducing the idea, in terms of previous experience with gene technology and general attitudes towards science and technology sphere, have influenced the nature and volume of concerns in respect to gene banks among the general public, as well as the very design of the projects. It is suggested that in all three cases, the most significant aspect of the public’s attitude to genetic databases – and a crucial factor in the eventual success or failure of the projects – will rest on a perception of the trustworthiness of the professionals and institutions involved in setting up and operat­ing the databases.