"Because Senator Brownback has introduced a Senate version of the House bill I wish to
comment on some of his public statements. He has characterized embryonic stem cell
research as immoral and unnecessary. But in testimony before the Harkin/Specter
Subcommittee on January 24th he stated that he supports in vitro fertilization clinics. When
Senator Harkin asked if he was aware that the majority of excess fertilized embryos are
routinely thrown into the garbage his response was I think most of them are put up for
adoption. That is simply not true. In a recent interview Senator Brownback said that he
wants to cure A.L.S. and added if we pursue the adult stem cell area where we all agree
that we can do this,
. that its the right thing to do. Again, that is not true. Experts in
A.L.S. research believe that embryonic stem cells are the best and possibly the only hope
for victims of that fatal condition.
Today 100 million Americans suffer from serious or currently incurable diseases. 54 million
Americans are disabled. Our government is supposed to do the greatest good for the
greatest number of people; beyond that we have a moral responsibility to help others. Time
is absolutely critical. If the government forces scientists to attempt to make adult stem
cells behave like embryonic stem cells, they might waste 5 years or more and fail. In the
meantime, hundreds of thousands will have died.
Why do we need therapeutic cloning? As a layman several important reasons come to
mind. One: implantation of human ES cells is not safe unless they contain the patients
own DNA. Two: Efforts to repair central nervous system disorders may need to recapitulate
the process of fetal development. That can only be accomplished by human ES cells.
Three: Therapeutic cloning is done without fertilizing an egg. It can be strictly regulated. If
we also enforce an absolute ban on reproductive cloning, we will not slide down the dreaded
slippery slope into moral and ethical chaos.
Any powerful new technology comes with the potential for abuse. But when we decide that
the benefit to society is worth the risk, we take every possible precaution and go forward.
The unfertilized eggs that will be used for nucleus transplantation (aka therapeutic cloning)
will never leave the laboratory and will never be implanted in a womb. But if we dont make
this research legal, if we dont use government funding and oversight, it will happen
privately, dangerously unregulated and uncontrolled.
Our country is about to lose its preeminence in science and medicine. We took a giant
step backwards in the 1970s when the NIH was not allowed to fund in vitro research until
an advisory commission could be formed to consider the issue. In the meantime there was
rapid progress in England and the first test tube baby was born in 1978. For purely
political reasons we did not succeed until 1981. Now IV clinics are commonplace; so far
177,000 children have been conceived in 400 facilities around the country.
Today human trials to defeat Parkinsons are underway in Sweden. In Israel macrophages,
scavenger cells that eat debris in the body, are being used to repair the damaged spinal
cord within two weeks of injury. The first human subject was a 19 year-old girl from
Colorado. Last week the House of Lords in the U.K. passed legislation permitting research
on cloned human embryos for the second time.
Those are not rogue nations behaving irresponsibly. They are allies, no less moral than we
are. If we act now, we still have a chance to catch up. I urge the Senate to defeat Senator
Brownbacks bill S.1899 and pass S.1758.
Thank you very much." -- Christopher Reeve.
In limited cases is just not good enough, George.
Many people woke up to find this in their mail
box. Welcome news?
Many people found this as they
searched at Go2Net. Welcome news? Here's the way we see it, which is of course,
the way it is.
Well guess what folks?
This one is going to
have to be short and to the point. President Bush ostensibly doesn't use
Zig-Zags. And he may never have heard of Braunstein Freres. But he can zig when
you think he's going to zag. And he can zag when you think he's going to
If there is any body left who would like to
chirp about his stem cell decree, guess again jelly bean. An American president
has virtually done the right thing in this instance as completely and as
cleverly as circumstances would permit. One might say that he did the right
thing with the wrong attitude or possibly for the wrong reasons. Why not just
own up to the fact that biomedical technology is headed smack dab through Stem
Cell City on its way to the future of medicine? One might say that he pandered
to big pharmaceutical manufacturers. They, after all, are in posession of the
60 or so main cell lines. Well for one, you'd hear that from the same old big
corporation bashers and their lame tunes get boring after a while. More
importantly, though, according to the op-ed from the Washington Post which came
out the day after President Bush's announcement, he has worked a sneaky
loophole into the fine print through which some of the little guys might be
able to drive the proverbial Mac truck.
The bottom line is that there may finally be
cures for those who need them. And there are exciting possibilities for future
biomedical advances. A lot will depend on Tommy Thompson.
On the face of it, the presidential bomb squad
led by Mr. Bush, has totally-otally defused this stem cell thing without any
significant faux pas. The fealty of his supporters remains intact. His
detractors not only have nothing about which to gripe, they may have some bonus
jellybeans on which to munch. The issue of stem cell research grants from the
government has been relegated to the status of a non-issue. It has all the
excitement potential of a bowl of cold oatmeal and soggy toast.
How much muck would a muck raker rake if a muck
raker could rake muck?
If there is anybody who just has to find fault
with President Bush, stem cells are the wrong tree up which to bark. Guess what
McDuff? You're going to have to look for some other muck to rake. Because ...
That dog just won't hunt.
What's left to
The Scientist Online:
Who's schooling lawmakers on the issues? By Hal Cohen and Brendan A. Maher