Human Exceptionalism

Behind the Spin: US NOT Falling Behind in ESCR

I have blogged on this before, but Eric Cohen has published a full article debunking the notion that the USA is falling behind in ES stem cell research due to President Bush’s funding restrictions. Cohen notes that “more than 85 percent of all the published embryonic-stem-cell research in the world…used the lines approved for funding under the Bush policy.” Not only that, but as I blogged previously, the USA was number 1 in the number of papers published in the world (42%)

Interestingly, Germany was number 2 with 10% of all published papers. Cohen doesn’t get into this, but Germany’s public policy regarding ESCR is more restrictive–some would say protective–than that of the USA. In Germany, it is against the law to destroy embryos for their stem cells (or other research purposes). German scientists are allowed to import ES cell lines if created before January 1, 2002. This is the Bush approach (no public funding of ESCR for lines derived after 8/9/01) squared, since it actually outlaws private parties from destroying embryos–which is completely legal here.

The bottom line, is that Germany and the USA provide more than half of all ESCR published papers. Falling behind my left, er, nostril.

Cohen notes that the paper supposedly demonstrating that the USA is falling behind–and which Cohen proves shows we actually dominate the field–was promoted by its authors and in the compliant media in a fallacious manner. I am not surprised. The public campaign to promote ESCR and cloning is the most dishonest and disingenuous public policy effort that I have ever witnessed in my nearly 20 years as a public policy activist. And the shameful part is that it is being conducted in the name of protecting science, which is corroded when scientists claim that spin and subjective advocacy is actually objective science.

Good for Cohen for taking the time to break down the numbers to give an accurate picture–not that most media are interested in accurate pictures.