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VCU survey: US public supports genetic research, testing and government spending on research
Date:12/17/2008

g on research that advances knowledge even if there are no immediate benefits is important.

Which is more important: nature or nurture? When asked the more important influence on behavior -- the environment or genes -- a majority of respondents, 57 percent, said the environment. Similarly, most take the position that environmental factors and living practices can alter a person's likelihood for disease. Two-thirds of Americans disagree that "a person's likelihood for disease is pretty much set from birth and cannot be greatly increased or decreased by their environment and living practices."

Science and society. Fully 83 percent of Americans say that new developments in science have helped make society better. Forty-six percent say science has helped make society a lot better, while 36 percent say it has helped make society somewhat better. More than six in 10, or 61 percent, agree that scientific research is essential for improving the quality of human lives. Some ambivalence in public sentiment continues to surface when it comes to how science matches up with moral principles. A majority of the public, 53 percent, says that scientific decisions should be based primarily on an analysis of the risks and benefits involved rather than the moral and ethical issues involved, cited by 32 percent. At the same time, a majority, 56 percent, agrees that scientific research doesn't pay enough attention to the moral values of society.

Embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research. New scientific developments have changed the landscape of stem cell research. Seven-in-10 adults favor stem cell research when it does not involve human embryos, down slightly from 75 percent just after the November 2007 announcement that human skin cells can be used to create stem cells or their near equivalents. Support for embryonic stem cell research is similar to past years: 57 percent of adults favor embryonic stem cell research, while 36 percent oppose.

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Contact: Anne Buckley
albuckley@vcu.edu
804-828-6052
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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