Grasp on DNA loose: survey

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 12:00am

Most people in Hong Kong know DNA exists, but more than a third of those surveyed believe the environment can influence the body's genetic structure.

The University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme surveyed 568 Cantonese-speaking people between the ages of 24 and 50 earlier this month on their knowledge of science.

The survey found 85 per cent of respondents had heard of DNA, two-thirds knew what is was, but only one-fifth knew it had the effect of controlling the body's structure and changes. Of the one-third of respondents who said environmental factors could affect DNA, most people thought air pollutants, dust and sunlight could change the body's genetic make-up.

Another third of respondents said they did not know if external environmental factors could affect the body's DNA, and 38 per cent said they could not. Just over 70 per cent said environmental factors affected DNA, which in turn led to dry skin and acne.