Madrid, May 13, 2008.-Unlike most scientific and technological advances, which tend to take their place silently in society, biotechnology often finds itself the center of public debate and regulatory attention, due partly to the moral issues posed by many of its applications.
In this second BBVA Foundation international study on Attitudes to Biotechnology (the first was in 2003), the sample has been enlarged from nine to twelve European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and Sweden), with the addition of countries from other continents; namely the United States, Japan and Israel. The selection of countries was informed by both their demographical weight and their variability from the standpoint of religious beliefs and cultural traditions.
Information was gathered through 1,500 face-to-face interviews in each country with subjects aged 18 and over (around 22,500 interviewees in all) conducted between April 2007 and February 2008. The design and analysis of the survey were the work of the Department of Social Studies and Public Opinion of the BBVA Foundation.
The present study focuses on attitudes towards one biotechnology application: research with embryos for the purpose of obtaining stem cells. In particular, it analyzes how far public opinion is informed about stem cells, expectations and reservations regarding research with embryonic stem cells and differences in support for such research depending on the origin of the embryos used. Attention also goes to the attitudes held on the creation of hybrid embryos for stem cell research.
PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF STEM CELLS
The data show that the percentage of the population that admit having heard or read anything about this kind of cell was notably uneven across the survey countries: over 70% had heard or read about stem cells in Sweden and Denmark (86%), and als
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