Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scary developments for Proposition 71

I. Steven Milloy on embryonic stem cell research

Steven Milloy, curator of the junkscience site, has weighed in against federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Now that Dr. Hwang’s claims have been exposed as fabrications, embryonic stem cell research has virtually no track record of progress.

No other embryonic stem cell researchers – not those who are privately- or state-funded (and not subject to federal funding restrictions) or who work in other countries ­– have made any advances toward disease treatments.

Progress in other research areas is even starting to raise questions about the need for embryonic stem cell research in the first place.

Milloy points out that there is private support available AND that anecdotes, rather than a driving need, furnish a lot of the support for taxypayer-financed embryonic stem cell research:

The University of California-Irvine, for example, just announced that it will use private funding to create five new lines of embryonic stem cells from embryos donated by patients from fertility clinics who no longer need the embryos and want to donate them to science. But it will take years just to create new stem cell lines before any research can be conducted.

Though there is no reason for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research, rationality is not what drives this debate.

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter underwent chemotherapy last year for Hodgkin’s disease and has held himself up as an example of someone who could benefit from embryonic stem cell research. Other members of Congress also seem to be falling back on their personal experiences with cancer and other diseases as reasons for supporting funding legislation.

With the fond memory of former President Ronald Reagan and his long struggle against Alzheimer’s disease still fresh in the public mind, Nancy Reagan wrote a private letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, urging the Senate to pass a bill in spite of President Bush’s threatened veto, according to an Associated Press report.

Milloy concludes: Moreover, the lack of federal funding doesn’t in any way impede research progress as privately-funded and foreign researchers are free to conduct whatever research they please on embryonic stem cells.

That freedom, however, has produced no results. What good can come from federal funding of futility?

IPBiz expected Milloy to make a comment about how none of Hwang Woo-Suk's scientific peers questioned Hwang's work. The virtually complete acceptance of Hwang's work stands in stark contrast to the situation with Jan-Hendrik Schon, wherein a lot of peers were questioning the work PRIOR TO the Beasley report. With Hwang, US counterparts were lining up to obtain Hwang's (fake) stem cell lines.

II. CaliforniaStemCellReport on political squabbling within CIRM

The rather unimaginative and wooden approach to intellectual property in the April 27 meeting was a bad sign for CIRM. Posts on californiastemcellreport on May 31 about internecine squabbling at CIRM are a further bad sign: "Dualing" Execs at CIRM: Touchy Issues Between Klein and Hall [The fundamental problem, however, is not going to go away easily, as more than one Oversight Committee remarked. ] and CIRM Travel Comments [Hall: My understanding is that all out-of-state travel and out-of-the-country travel requires my approval. Pomeroy: "I have to get approval every time I travel." Pizzo: "Well, that's why I left the NIH actually, to be honest with you."]

File these comments under "It's bound to scare you boy."

I hope New Jersey State Senate President Codey is paying attention.


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