Saturday, April 18, 2009

More stem cell politics

Read about the new federal stem cell research rules:

"The Obama administration issued guidelines yesterday limiting government-sponsored embryonic stem cell research to cells taken from excess fertility clinic embryos, a compromise based on its reading of public opinion about the cutting-edge science. The decision fell short of the open-ended policy some scientists and patient advocates had hoped for, but is far less likely to spark controversy. It also will mean that tax dollars could begin flowing as early as fall to projects involving hundreds of new stem cell clusters. Raynard S. Kington, acting director of the National Institutes of Health, said yesterday that the administration was guided by "broad public support" in establishing a policy that prohibits creation of embryos for research purposes as well as any type of therapeutic cloning. Specifically, NIH modeled its approach after legislation that twice passed Congress, he explained. Those votes are "the strongest indication of public support," he told reporters yesterday morning. "There is not similar broad support for using stem cells from other sources." Ironically, one of the chief architects of that legislation, Rep. Michael N. Castle(R-Del.), said yesterday that although he was pleased by the NIH action, "there is opportunity for more expansive guidelines." Some proponents of aggressive research policies expressed disappointment in President Obama, who stressed a month ago that science ought not be hampered by political considerations. "I am really, really startled," said Susan L. Solomon, chief executive of the private New York Stem Cell Foundation. "This seems to be a political calculus when what we want in this country is a scientific research calculus.""

Did you get that? The new rules are based upon the administration's "reading of public opinion", and reject research for which there is no "broad support".

I thought we were getting the politics out of science.

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