New report details public opinion and fast-changing science landscape
The confusing welter of state laws regarding human cloning for reproductive purposes and for research uses reflects a national political impasse on regulating cloning, according to a new report by The Genetics & Public Policy Center, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins University. This lack of a national consensus comes at a time when rapid advances in cloning technology make crafting broader public policy increasingly urgent, the report notes. "While human cloning technology is still in its infancy, the science is outpacing the public’s understanding and the formulation of coherent public policy," it warns.
"Scientists have cloned cows, cats, and human embryos," says Kathy Hudson, director of the Center. "Meanwhile, the public and policymakers have reached a political impasse – we’re embroiled in a complex and divisive ethical and policy debate that too often is rushed and emotionally charged. We hope this report will contribute to public understanding and to the development of sound science policy."
Regarding research cloning, the Center’s survey also found that:
On issues related to reproductive cloning, the Center found that:
Of the minority of respondents who answered yes when asked whether human cloning --whether for research or reproduction -- "should be allowed at all," 85 percent stated that the government should regulate cloning "based on quality and safety," and 54 percent responded that the government should regulate cloning "based on ethics and morality."
The report also concludes that Americans don’t form their opinions about cloning in a vacuum. "American’s opinions about cloning are not firmly held and likely are being influenced by their positions on more familiar issues such as abortion and the value of biomedical research to develop new therapies and treatments for the sick," the report says. "Given this situation, it is not surprising that lawmakers in Washington and in various state legislatures have not been able to reach consensus on laws to regulate cloning, or how cloning ultimately might be used in medicine."
"Cloning: A Policy Analysis" is available on the web site for The Genetics and Public Policy Center, www.dnapolicy.org. Print copies are available by mail from the letterhead address.
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