Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New Jersey voters reject bond measure on stem cell research on 6 Nov 07

In a stunning development, New Jersey voters rejected by a margin of about 53-47 the proposed $450 million bond issue to support stem cell research.

Terrence Dopp writing for Bloomberg noted:

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the stem-cell question was defeated by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, according to, a Web site affiliated with the Star-Ledger of Newark. (...)

The rejection shows voters didn't buy Corzine's arguments that borrowing for investment in stem-cell research would attract economic development and help retain business in New Jersey, home to more pharmaceutical companies than any other in the U.S. state, said Ingrid Reed, a political scientist at Rutgers University. The governor personally donated $150,000 to a stem-cell advocacy group campaigning for the measure.

"This was clearly a big defeat," said Reed, director of Rutgers' Eagleton Project New Jersey in New Brunswick. Voters "didn't have confidence that this would pay off in the short run," she said.

IPBiz notes that the vote on the stem cell measure should be seen as a rejection of the silliness proposed by a Rutgers professor on the value to the state of this bond measure. Dopp wrote:

In supporting the stem-cell measure, Corzine, 60, cited a Rutgers study released last month that said the $450 million in funding, coupled with a $270 million stem cell research institute under construction, would generate $2.2 billion in economic benefit, 30,000 new jobs and $115 million in state revenue.

"This has a quantifiable payback, which justifies the borrowing, which is what capital investments are about," Corzine, 60, said at an Oct. 23 stem cell center groundbreaking in New Brunswick.

Governor Corzine, as a former chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co. may have been a big wheel in the world of finance, but the bond vote shows that everyday people may have a better grasp on what will, and will not, likely make money. The projections on patent royalties resulting from the research, made both here and in California, are utter fantasy, and now we have a vote wherein everyday taxpayers recognized the snake oil for what it was. There was no quantifiable payback. Finance guys are NOT the ones to be lecturing others concerning the world of invention and innovation.

As this IPBiz post is going up, one notes that californiastemcellreport has made no comment on the defeat of the bond measure in New Jersey. Californiastemcellreport does have commentary on the WARF patents:

WARF Stem Cell Patents: The Latest Chapter

The californiastemcellreport even mentions the American Chemical Society in the post
High Priests vs. Open Access to Research

[On open access, Bob Park's WN had text: Taxpayers say they paid for the research and shouldn't have to pay again to see the results. Even the libraries are strapped by subscription costs. NIH director Zerhouni urges researchers to publish in open-access journals, but they don't. They publish in expensive high-prestige journals. So both the House and Senate put language in HHS appropriations requiring open access. Scientific societies and commercial publishers opposed it. It was also opposed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) who tried to gut it. Why, you ask? One of his top contributors is Elsevier, which spends about $4M a year buying members of Congress. Bush is threatening to veto the bill anyway, to save money for wars.]

IPBiz had a previous post on the NJ bond measure, which post was titled
Princeton Fog. Tuesday's vote suggests the fog may have lifted.


Comments from this IPBiz post appeared at

Comments from this IPBiz post also appeared at the Philly Inquirer.

An entry below the IPBiz entry stated:

I'm sorry about the defeat of the stem cell referendum. I lost my Dad to Parkinson's and dementia and it was a horrible ordeal for my family. Plus my wonky side believes that the investment would have ultimately paid for itself in high quality job growth and would have helped New Jersey retain its position as a leader in medical research and development.

In addition to thinking the bond money would have been a bad investment for NJ taxpayers (an opinion apparently shared by many voters), IPBiz remains unconvinced that any therapeutic benefits, for example as to treatment of Parkinson's, were reasonably foreseeable on a ten year horizon. As to the "leader" argument, California with its $3 billion investment, is probably better positioned to be the leader in stem cell research than is New Jersey. FURTHER, do we really want states competing with one another to attract scientific talent? Probably not. The conflicting intellectual property policy among different states already promises to be a nightmare.

One other point, in case anyone is interested in the snake oil text. Those words came from an article in Investor's Business Daily on 5 Dec. 2006:

Californians were promised wonder cures if they passed Proposition 71 to fund stem-cell research in 2004. Turns out they have bought a $3 billion jug of snake oil.


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