Re: SOC: Canadian poll on biotech issues

Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 18:21:07 MST

Greg Burch forwards,
> From The Ottawa Citizen Online,
> -
> Replacement body parts: Unlike human cloning, Canadians seem to have fewer
> ethical qualms about the emerging field of research on breeding body parts.
> Still, the public is evenly split on the issue -- a fact that should concern
> biotechnologists who might assume that patients would naturally support
> their work.
> They are involved in one of the most promising areas of bioengineering that
> could conceivably save the lives of thousands of people awaiting organ
> transplants. In labs throughout Canada and the U.S., researchers are making
> great strides in their attempts to produce unlimited quantities of skin, eye
> corneas, bone and human organs for grafting and transplantation.
> Pollara found three-quarters of Canadians expect there will be a "market"
> for body parts in the next decade. But there is a clear split on whether it
> should happen -- 48 per cent in support, and 48 per cent opposed.

It seems to me that this question, whether there should be a "market" in
body parts, is not quite the same as the broader issue, which is whether
people support medical technology that can create replacement body parts.
I don't know how the actual survey question was worded, but this talk
about a "market" conjures up images of people selling their body parts,
which is something that has long been opposed. I question whether we
can take this 48-48 split to apply to medical biotech in general, and
artificial organs in particular.

One thing I'm not clear about is whether the technology for artificially
growing human organs would be based on the user's own tissues, or whether
it would be based on someone else's tissue. The former would be superior
in terms of rejection, but it would presumably take longer. If you need a
new liver you may not be able to wait months for one to be grown. Also,
doing it from your own cells would require regressing them to the stem
cells stage, which is new technology, whereas getting them from someone
else could start with fetal tissue, making the task simpler.

These two approaches would likely have very different levels of ethical
acceptance from the general public.

> Curing disease: Canadians are very optimistic that there will be cures
> within the next decade for some of the most deadly diseases that have
> plagued science. Seventy-four per cent think AIDS will be cured by 2010, and
> 73 per cent expect a cure for cancer by that year. On a less positive note,
> 55 per cent also expect an epidemic worse than AIDS will arise in the next
> decade.

I'm surprised they didn't ask how many people support cures for AIDS and
cancer. It's going against God's will, after all...

BTW the online prediction game Foresight Exchange
is much more pessimistic about a cure for cancer by 2010, giving it 38%
odds, which is more in line with what seems reasonable to me.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:09 MDT