Human Exceptionalism

ACT’s Bioethics Adviser Fails to Slip Off the Non Credibility Hook

I am told that Ronald Green is now saying he was misquoted when the Washington Post quoted him as stating about Advanced Cell Technology’s embryonic stem cell non-breakthrough, “You can honestly say this cell line is from an embryo that was in no way harmed or destroyed.”

I very much doubt it, since the reporter was Rick Weiss, who is very pro ESCR but also a good journalist. Besides, take a gander at this statement issued over Green’s signature, which brags that oversight over the experiment was provided by the company’s ethics advisory board and then describes the experiment as obtaining ES cells from single cells taken from still-viable embryos:

“The researchers then developed a method of producing stem cell lines by extracting and biopsying single cells (blastomeres) from these embryos. This technique, which leaves the embryos developmentally viable, offers a promising new way of ethically deriving human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines for research and clinical therapies. It also offers an approach that could overcome the legal and political barriers that have severely limited federal funding for hESC research.” (My emphasis.)

And then there’s this little bit of deceptive prose:”Right now, many stem cell lines for research and clinical use can ethically be derived from embryos undergoing PGD [pre-implantation genetic diagnosis]. Because a cell must be taken from these embryos for the testing procedure, the use of these cells to develop a stem cell line presents no additional risk to the embryo. Many people will regard this as an ethically acceptable way of deriving new stem cell lines that are urgently needed for research.

Research on stem cells derived in this manner may also be suitable for federal funding. Current U.S. law prohibits funding for ‘research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death . . .’ Since the procedure of single cell blastomere biopsy does not itself harm or destroy embryos, there is reason to believe that informed legal opinion will permit the use of stem cells derived in this way.” (Emphasis added.)

Gee, it sure seems that ACT’s ethics advisory board is telling the world that the company derived embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, when its researchers did no such thing–just like Green’s “misquote.”

Keep digging ACT representatives. You are just getting ACT and yourselves into an ever-deepening credibility hole.