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The Future of Genomics in Switzerland

Dialog 2.0 - Launch Event May 4th 2023

On May 4th, about a dozen curious individuals gathered at a community center in Zurich, Switzerland, for a stimulating discussion on genomics. The goal of this Dialog 2.0 event was to encourage understanding of complex issues and promote democratic skills such as open dialogue and neutral exploration of competing viewpoints.

The evening began with an introduction to Carbon Copy, followed by an icebreaker question: "What does good deliberation mean to you?"

Participants shared their thoughts, thereby defining the etiquette of the session.

The Dialog 2.0 events focus on controversial questions that society faces due to innovations in tech and science. Our objective for this event was to explore participants' thoughts on whether Switzerland should change its laws on gene editing on human embryos. Currently, germline editing is prohibited.

To provide expert insight, we invited Professor Kelly Ormond, with expertise in genetic counseling and Bioethics at ETH Zurich & Stanford, along with two domain experts: Agata Ferretti(Postdoc from ETH)and Carla Bello, Senior Research Scientist in Medical Genetics at the IMG - University Zurich

The main part of the evening was dedicated to an interactive Dialog exercise named "Steel manning," designed to foster an understanding of the topic and the competing viewpoints.

Participants were asked to vote if they believed Switzerland should allow gene editing in embryos for severe genetic diseases. The group was evenly divided, and each side was tasked with comprehending and discussing the opposing side's primary arguments. One interesting observation here was that the two groups were split by gender; initially, all female participants were against the suggestion of allowing gene editing.

After a 30-minute deliberation, each group presented the strongest arguments from their assigned perspective. Participants then had the opportunity to argue for their original stance. A final vote was conducted, with the experts now permitted to participate.

Two participants who initially opposed germline editing changed their minds, showcasing the success of Dialog 2.0 in fostering thoughtful discourse and personal growth. As the event concluded, attendees enjoyed refreshments and conversation, their shared experience fostering connections and continued discussion.

On behalf of the entire Carbon Copy team, we thank all participants for their insightful contributions and lively engagement in Dialog 2.0. And last but not least, to all experts and helping hands that made the event a great success!


Empower yourself and your community by attending our next session, where we'll tackle complex issues, foster civic engagement, and spark meaningful dialogue!

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