Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

More Stem Cell Excuses from ESCR Advocates


It is a given that President Obama will dismantle the funding limitations on ESCR imposed by President Bush. Even though Bush's plan still resulted in about $160 million in human embryonic stem cell NIH funding, "the scientists" complain that it is his fault the field has not proved as fruitful as expected. From the story:
Though optimistic about the effects of a new federal policy, research institutes caution that the fruits of this research will take time and that cures are not around the corner. "There's still a lot of basic science to be done....The [Bush] policy has set research back five to six to seven years in this country," Devitt said.
Oh please. First, thanks to Bush probably more money was thrown at ESCR than ever would have otherwise been the case--think Proposition 71 among other state agendas. Second, according to the Rockefeller Institute, the field has received a whopping $2 billion in research funds in the USA alone! Third, as the story acknowledges, there will probably not be any more money provided by the NIH under the new policy. Thus, while it will be more convenient for researchers not having to segregate federally funded research from that which didn't use approved lines, and while newer lines will be able to be used in federally funded projects--it is hard to believe that these inconveniences have held back the field five or six years. Otherwise, why would countries that have not operated under the Bush restrictions, gotten no further along than have USA scientists?

The most pressing problems for ESCR have been the technical difficulties associated with the field and patent disputes. But that isn't good for the politics of the thing. So expect Bush to continue to be a convenient excuse for the failure of field--so far--to fulfill the hype. In this sense, he might be worth his weight in political gold.


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