Time to Ax California’s Stem Cell Agency

Proposition 71, which brought the misbegotten California Institute for Regenerative Medicine into being, was sold to voters in a blatantly mendacious campaign based on embryonic stem cell hype of CURES! CURES! CURES! and outright lies about the then state of regenerative medical science.

Its administration has been marked by arrogance, conflict of interest, cronyism. And the CURES!? Not so many. In fact, none. And the human trial CIRM helped bring to that stage of experimentation? Non embryonic.

Now, hopefully, with its time running out and requiring voters to re-authorize its existence, the media is being ginned up to revise history and repackage the agency–as in this factually challenged Bloomberg story, byline Mark Melnicoe:

California voters approved the bonds after President George W. Bush banned the use of federal funds for research on embryonic stem cells.

Good grief, he did not!” This is so frustrating: It has been 12 years and media still refuse–or are too incompetent–to report the Bush policy accurately. Bush refused funding for ESCR from newly destroyed embryos. Research on existing lines were funded by NIH to the tune of hundreds of millions during the Bush years. And we wonder why journalism has lost so much respect.

But to the bigger point. The CIRM is scrambling to look good so voters will borrow billions more to pay its administrators’ high salaries and give tens of millions in grants to university research labs–many of which, it should be noted have huge endowment funds–with taxpayer’s borrowed money! Then, there is the corporate welfare issue…

And guess what? Most of the grants CIRM makes are no longer for embryonic work–as the Bloomberg story lightly discusses:

Since then, other types of stem cells have been shown to act like embryonic cells, relieving some of the debate over the ethics of destroying human embryos to use the cells. The agency’s funding decisions have included a grant of $20 million to a team led by Irv Weissman at the Stanford University School of Medicine, seeking a cure for cancer.

Induced pluripotent stem cell and adult stem cell research constitute the bulk of CIRM funding, that and hundreds of millions into fancy buildings.

We can’t let history be rewritten: The raison d’ etre of the CIRM was to fund ethically controversial research supposedly restricted by the FEDS, e.g. embryonic and human cloning. That purpose no longer can be justified–if it ever could (see above).

And remember, this is all borrowed money. California is still swimming in deep red ink. We don’t have the money–and it really isn’t a state function, at least in lean times–to fund stem cell research of whatever kind or nature. 

So, fellow Californians, let’s not be fooled. When this thing comes up for election again in 14: Kill it!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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