As well as information about stem cells, the survey enquired about how far citizens understood the properties of such cells and the procedures used for obtaining them. The results point to a moderate understanding of stem cell properties: surpassing 50% in seven of the fifteen countries, between 40% and 50% in another four and below this threshold in the four remaining (Austria, Poland, Japan and Israel).
In contrast, people had a poor understanding about how stem cells are extracted and the consequences for the embryo, with percentages no higher than 30% in the United States, between 15% and 20% in a further six countries and lower still in the remainder.
VIEWS ABOUT RESEARCH WITH STEM CELLS
In most societies there is a broad consensus around the usefulness of research with few-day-old human embryos in order to obtain stem cells. The mean agreement score with the idea that such research is very useful stood higher than the midpoint (5 on a scale from 0 to 10) in all countries except Austria, and was upwards of 6 points in nine of the fifteen countries, with Denmark and Sweden out in front.
But this overall perception of usefulness does not rule out feelings of risk or moral dilemmas. Hence the data show considerable reservations about the risks entailed by researching with human embryos that are a few days old for the purpose of obtaining stem cells. There is general disagreement with the idea that this application poses no serious risks, with mean agreement scores below the midpoint (5) in eleven of the fifteen countries. The citizens perceiving least risk are the Danish and the Dutch, with Austrians, Americans and Japanese lined up at the other extreme.
The moral or i
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