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Thx Aleszu for the article.
It seems the long standing debate on what is scientifically ethical with regard embryonic science hasn’t abated as some thought it did as a result of iPS reprogramming technology. On the contrary in fact the advances in reverse engineering of cells and genetic editing technology has once again made the topic all the more poignant for societal discussion. This was the subject of an International Summit on Human Gene Editing and two related Consensus Committee meetings which your readers may be interested in (http://www.nationalacademies.org/gene-editing/index.htm).
I’ve attempted to address various issues on this complex subject on my blog >
Progress and the Circle of Scientific Medical Innovation: http://msemporda.blogspot.com/2016/02/progress-and-circle-of-scientific.html
Creation, Ensoulment, Birth & The Ethical Use of a Donated Cell: http://msemporda.blogspot.com/2014/10/creation-ensoulment-birth-ethical-use.html
Germline Science & Embryo Use – The Law & Scope for Applied Research: http://msemporda.blogspot.com/2015/05/germline-science-embryo-use-law-scope.html
Germline Editing using CRISPR-Cas9 – Totipotent Cell Research: http://msemporda.blogspot.com/2015/04/germline-editing-using-crispr-cas9.html
Stop it. Quit soft pedaling the fact of evolution by comments such as the introductory paragraph which elevates the belief of creationism to the level of simple theory while at the same time devaluating evolution as a theory when it’s a fact.
You misstate and confuse the history of the policy and politics badly. The first five paragraphs track the erroneous narrative that Bush banned embryonic stem cell research, Obama ended the ban, Pence will take us back to a ban on funding.
Your 6th paragraph gets to the fact that Bush authorized federal funding for embryonic stem cell research for the first time, yet you only describe it as a limitation and a ban. The significance of Bush’s comments was not that he was limiting research or funding. It was totally the opposite: he was pushing against the longstanding opposition (opposition you take note of in the comments) by providing funding for the first time.
Bush sought to justify and balance this decision with the ethical concerns by funding only the existing lines. Obama later reiterated the ethical concerns voiced by Bush and they became part of the guidelines for any decision to authorize funding for additional stem cell lines. While this was an important delegation to the bureaucracy that opened up additional lines for funding, it was more an expansion of what Bush began than the ending of what is so often labeled a “ban.”
It’s similarly wrong when you write:
“President Barack Obama reinstated the funding when he took office in 2009, through an executive order, but there is some good news for scientists facing the prospect of renewed restrictions under Trump and Pence.”
Again, Obama did not “reinstate” funding — it never previously existed.
It is wrong too when you write:
“Universities across the country, including Harvard and Stanford, began opening privately-funded research institutes to circumvent federal restrictions.”
It is not a circumvention of a federal regulation to use your own money on something that is not illegal. That’s just called doing research with private funding.
It is possible that in the 7+ years since Pence wrote against Obama’s expansion of embryonic stem cell research funding his views have changed. Perhaps Pence feels that the bureaucracy has sufficiently guarded against ethical problems after all. Perhaps Pence feels it is still too ethically problematic and would seek to fund only the lines currently authorized (essentially go back to the Bush funding method, but not a ban). Maybe now he believes he has been vindicated about the results of embryonic stem cell research and still thinks federal funding is better served to fund adult stem cell research (commenter JeffB’s view).
There are legitimate ethical and budgetary considerations, along with the partisan political stuff (and the desire of scientists to get federal money). This is an important debate but I’m afraid it will remain a political circus. It is important to get the history right and to not downplay the legitimate concerns. Politics infects everything nowadays. We all need to guard against that.
FYI: The Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibited the government from creating or destroying human embryo, was signed into law in 1996 by President William Jefferson Clinton. That’s some “Truth, Beauty, Science” that you seem willing to sweep under the rug.
Thanks William. Yes, federal opposition to stem cell research dates back more than three decades. We could have mentioned the NIH’s ethics board guidelines of 1979 and, of course, Dickey-Wicker in 1996, in addition to an explanation of the Bush and Obama executive orders. I chose to highlight only the most recent federal changes in terms of public tax dollars and embryonic stem cell research. You are correct – the Dickey-Wicker moratorium on federal money being used for creating or destroying embryos, which sped through the House and Senate in ’95 – remains unchanged and worth a deeper look in a longer story. Thanks for reading.
It appears you chose your content to promote your political views, and chose to ignore content that contradicts them. Nothing in your response dissuades me from thinking so.
If you are going to be honest. You should list the numerous cures obtained through adult stem cell therapies. Based on all these successes, the research dollars would be better served in adult stem cell research.
Thanks for the comment, Jeff. Adult stem cells indeed are used for treatments, the majority of which are based on stem cells isolated from blood. The federal budget for all stem cell treatments can be found here: https://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx