Thursday, June 14, 2007

National Academy of Sciences attacked over closing stem cell meeting

In a series of posts at californiastemcellreport (e.g., The National Academy of Sciences: Feeding the Anti-Science Movement), the blog and FTCR person John M. Simpson have been criticizing the National Academy of Sciences for closing, to the public, a certain stem cell meeting in May 2007.

There are several dimensions to this story.

-->Relevant to the National Academy of Sciences/STEP report on patent reform, no one has titled an article "The National Academy of Sciences: Feeding the Anti-Patent Movement," but they could have. The deficiencies of the NAS/STEP report as to the analysis of patent quality are notable. Careful reading of the National Academy of Sciences/STEP report reveals a lack of firmness in the "patent quality" conclusion. At page 3, one reads: "The claim that quality has deteriorated in a broad and systematic way could be, but has not been, empirically tested. Therefore, conclusions must remain tentative." At page 48, one has the statement: "Nevertheless, the claim that quality has deteriorated in a broad and systematic way has not been empirically tested." One also notes that there is not much discussion of a previous NAS/NRC study on patent reform in the year 1918, discussed in the first article ever published in the journal now known as JPTOS (see 1 JPOS 1 (1918)).

-->In researching an earlier NAS report on radon [see NAS on radon], IPBiz came across a warning that one should pay attention to "who is funding a given NAS report." In the case of the patent reform report, there was funding both from NASA and from private companies.

-->Although the californiastemcellreport is ripping into NAS, the stemcellreport is rather silent on the mediocre reporting of the San Diego Union-Tribune on past attempts of California stem cell workers to obtain broad patent coverage on embryonic stem cells and on the superficial reporting of the Los Angeles Times on the Cha duplicate publication matter.

In any event, the stemcellreport said this about NAS:

The National Academy of Sciences has not distinguished itself with its response to the flap about barring the public from a meeting of public officials discussing interstate cooperation on billions of dollars in stem cell research financed with taxpayer funds. (...) The letter from the NAS demonstrated a fundamental failure to grasp that secrecy on this subject is not in the best interests of the public or of the academy. Closing the door only generates suspicion and distrust and unnecessarily feeds the anti-science movement in this country.

NAS (E. William Colglazier) had replied to Simpson:

"I am responding to your letter of May 24 regarding the meeting at the Beckman Center in Irvine, California, on May 23 and 24 involving representatives of states involved in stem cell research. That meeting was an invitation-only planning session, which we were requested to convene, to discuss the potential interest of states regarding sharing information and improving coordination in the future. As the states decide how and when to move forward with information sharing and interstate coordination activities, I expect that there will be ample opportunities for public involvement."

--> Now perhaps the californiastemcellreport and John M. Simpson might wish to discuss the Loring patent applications on embryonic stem cells.

[As a footnote to all of this, during LBE's foray into California in June 2007, LBE could not find anyone with great interest in Proposition 71 / CIRM or the current funding matters arising from Proposition 71. Separately, no one was surprised that the Union Tribune and the Times might not report stem cell matters with accuracy.]


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