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Public attitudes to human cloning: evidence from mixed methods

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1 Public attitudes to human cloning: evidence from mixed methods
Richard Shepherd University of Surrey

2 Co-investigators Julie Barnett Helen Cooper Adrian Coyle
Chris Fife-Schaw Jo Moran-Ellis Victoria Senior Patrick Sturgis Chris Walton Martha Augoustinos (Adelaide – textual analyses)

3 Outline of talk Advances in genomics ‘Attitudes to Genomics’ project
Cloning reproductive therapeutic Findings from: Survey Vignette studies Focus groups Textual analyses Concluding comments

4 Human genome

5 Genome sequences completed
Human Mouse Rat Chimpanzee Fruit fly (Drosophila) Plants E.g. Arabidopsis Bacteria E.g. Streptomyces coelicolor Yeast E.g. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast)

6 UK stamp

7 Genomics applications
Increasing importance of genomics in biological sciences GM food/crops Pharmaceuticals Health treatments Forensic Social and economic issues Public and media interest

8 ESRC Genomics Network CESAgen - ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics Lancaster University Cardiff University Egenis - the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society Exeter University ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum University of Edinburgh Innogen – ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics Open University ‘Genomics Survey’ – Attitudes to genomics University of Surrey

9 Attitudes to Genomics project
Funded by ESRC November January 2006 Includes both health and agricultural applications of genomics

10 Structure of project Survey Information intervention Vignette studies
Focus groups Interviews Textual and visual analyses

11 Survey Included in British Social Attitudes Survey
Approx 3200 members of the public – representative sample Approx 60 questions on genomics Some repeated from earlier surveys Plus demographics and other information Fieldwork: June - September 2003

12 Questionnaire topics Generic Applications Genetic knowledge
History of genetic illness Awareness and engagement General attitudes towards genomics Trust Values Use of genetic data Applications Gene therapy Genetic testing Human cloning GM crops and food

13 Vignette studies Six vignette studies Baseline, scenario, outcome
Scenarios designed to test Contextual factors on cognitive and affective responses Ambivalence Topics Stem cells Genetic testing GM crops Gene patenting Reproductive technologies Cloning

14 Focus groups Personal stakeholder groups General public groups
2 affected by genetic diseases 4 concerned about environment/crops General public groups 4 focusing on genetic diseases 4 focusing on environment/crops 4 wider concerns Analysed using discourse analysis

15 Textual and visual analyses
Analysis of representations of genetic technologies 1340 Newspaper articles: 12 Jan – 11 April 2004 Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror 31 TV programmes: 12 Jan – 11 April 2004 News items, Documentaries/‘factual’ programmes Websites: 20 genetic-related groups: April UK Government texts: 12 April April 2004

16 Cloning Reproductive Therapeutic
Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Therapeutic Therapeutic cloning, also called "embryo cloning," is the production of human embryos for use in research. The goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease.

17 Reproductive and therapeutic cloning
UN Discussions on world-wide ban on all human cloning US in favour of total ban UK wanted ban only on reproductive March 2005: Non-binding ban on all human cloning passed UK Banned reproductive cloning 2001 Therapeutic cloning still allowed and supported by government

18 Dolly

19 Claims for first human clone

20 Korean stem cell research
Breakthrough 2003/4 Fraud claims 2005/6 Clone breakthrough may lead to gene cures, say scientists Colin Blackstock Thursday February 12, 2004 The Guardian

21 Attitudes to cloning: survey
% saying cloning should ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ be allowed or not allowed… Question Type of cloning Allow Not allow Base ... if a person needs an organ transplant. Therap 65 24 2599 ... if a person needs treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. 2587 …if a person is generally in good health and wants to live longer. 15 74 2578 …to treat a young couple who are infertile and cannot have a child. Repro 38 48 2608

22 Attitudes to cloning: vignettes
Question Therap (n=183) Repro (n=181) As described, should be banned 2.85 3.55*** As described, should be allowed under certain circumstances 3.63 2.94*** Threatens natural order 3.56 3.87** No threat to future generations 2.41 2.16* Response scale 1 to 5 * p<0.05; ** p<0.01; *** p<0.001

23 Cloning should be banned
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree Count 60 50 40 30 20 10 therapeutic cloning reproductive cloning

24 Cloning should be allowed under certain circumstances
Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree Count 80 60 40 20 therapeutic cloning reproductive cloning

25 Percentage saying human cloning should ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ NOT be allowed by religious affiliation Religion Organ transplant Live longer Parkinson's disease Have a child Base None 11 47 10 27 1129 C of E 12 46 26 722 Roman Catholic 19 49 18 34 230 Other Christian 15 14 378 Non-Christian 44 13 97 All 2456

26 Multiple regression predicting overall attitude to cloning
Variable Beta Gender -0.09*** Age -0.05 No religion 0.03 Church of England 0.07 Roman Catholic Christian – Other -0.01 Non-Christian 0.01 * p<0.05 ** p<0.01 ***p<0.001

27 Cloning – underlying values: focus groups
Front-line resource Early on in the discussion Bottom-line resource Further discussion of permissibility closed down Status of the embryo Not usually specifically religious but sanctity of human life Interfering with nature More readily contestable than status of the embryo Questioning historical and cultural stability of concept of ‘nature’ Used across focus groups on many topics of discussion

28 Cloning – underlying values
Status of the embryo Megan: That’s absolutely fine if they take your own stem cells but taking embryonic stem cells I don’t think is right. [ ] Well, they’re experimenting on embryos at the moment to extract their stem cells and then the thing dies, basically. Amy: Not fully-grown embryos. Megan: It’s still human life, isn’t it? Interfering with nature Ethan: Yes, and as Thomas said earlier, you’re just tampering with nature. Knowing about nature is one thing but to start changing things. Archie: Just leave things alone. You don’t know what you’re doing. You know, the Frankenstein thing. What…? You’re interfering with nature. You’re playing God. Whatever.

29 Reproductive vs therapeutic cloning: focus groups
Initial discussion of cloning implicitly reproductive References to Dolly (and early death) Reproductive No real benefits Morally questionable unscrupulous scientists and people with money Michael Jackson Status of the embryo and interfering with nature Therapeutic When therapeutic cloning introduced then also included utilitarian arguments Slippery slope

30 Cloning: focus groups Reproductive cloning Therapeutic cloning
Charlie: Reproductive cloning, I don’t really understand why they would want an exact copy of yourself or you want to copy a sheep or a horse. An exact copy. Therapeutic cloning Megan: The government have already said ‘yes’ to the therapeutic cloning. We’re already allowed to do that. The government decided for us that that’s okay, which is a bit worrying, I think. I think we’re the only European country that approved therapeutic cloning, I believe. It’s one thing experimenting on embryos but also, it’s a bit of a slippery slope into reproductive cloning, isn’t it? That’s the logical next step. Okay, they said ‘yes, that’s wrong, everyone agrees, we’re not going to clone a baby’ but of course they will.

31 Cloning: media coverage
The very idea Building blocks of life, ‘mother cells’ Considerable ambivalence: human identity Unnatural/naturalised; historical precedents (e.g. transplants) The science Contested status of cells/embryos involved Deployed by both those for and against

32 Reproductive cloning: media
Dr Panos Zavos Maverick Abuse/misuse of genetic science Highly experimental Potentially dangerous Dolly the sheep Early death Unethical Scientific community opposed

33 Therapeutic cloning – Korean research: media
Highly ambivalent Celebration and fear in same headlines/articles Constructions of hope and promise Moral contrast between reproductive and therapeutic The slippery slope metaphor Opponents argue both forms of cloning the same Scientific discourse High technology Science fact/fiction allusions

34 Ambivalence on Korean cloning
Headlines from articles in the Daily Telegraph ‘Human cells cloned: babies next? Scientists celebrate a milestone for medicine - Pro-life groups fear misuse of new technique’ ‘Cloning human cells is not the beginning of the slippery slope’ ‘The ugly new world of human cloning’ ‘After the mavericks and cults, this cloning could mark a turning point’

35 Conclusions - cloning Cloning = reproductive cloning
Therapeutic cloning generally positive in quantitative data (depending on application) Reproductive cloning reasonably positive in quantitative data Very negative for both types of cloning in focus groups and in media coverage Values important in determining attitudes Interfering with nature Status of embryo Religion Limited effects in quantitative data Not explicit in focus groups but possibly drawing on resources associated with religious beliefs

36 Conclusions - mixed methods
Triangulation Similarities of findings Differences in findings Participants sensitive to the cues in the research environment Examine in more depth and in different contexts Media analysis allows examination of the background Similarity between discourse used in media and in focus groups Impact of media on public responses Media well attuned to public beliefs

37 Overall conclusions Genomic developments will affect many areas of life in the future Cloning thought of as reproductive cloning No benefits Difficult to differentiate therapeutic applications Different methods show both agreement and disagreement Allows exploration of responses and also the wider milieu within which responses given


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