NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jan 22 - Nearly two thirds of Americans support federal funding for stem cell research, according to a poll commissioned by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF).
In a survey conducted in mid-January, more than 1000 individuals were asked whether they "favor or oppose the funding of stem cell research by the National Institutes of Health."
Prefacing the question was the statement that "medical researchers believe that human stem cells can be developed into replacement cells to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, burns, or spinal cord problems." The participants were also told that stem cells are collected "from excess human embryos developed through in vitro fertilization and fetal tissue that has been donated to research."
About 33% of the respondents said they "strongly favor" the funding and an additional 33% said they "somewhat favor" the funding. Nine percent said they don't know.
"People were told in the question where stem cells come from, so we weren't trying to hide anything," Lawrence Soler, director of government relations at JDRF, pointed out in an interview with Reuters Health. "People had a sense that this is affiliated with an issue that some people consider controversial."
The incoming Bush administration is debating whether to halt government funding for such research. In light of the survey results, recent campaign-trail discussions of putting a stop to stem cell research funding "may have been made too quickly," Soler said.
"More thought needs
to go into determining what the new administration's position is on this
research on this issue," he said. "There's a lot of people out there who
are affected by the diseases that could be cured or treated by stem cell
2000 Reuters Ltd.