A private benefactor has donated $16 million to UCSF to conduct embryonic stem cell research free of the ethical restrictions attached to federal funding. Some will say that this is in defiance of President Bush. In fact, the opposite is true. At the time Bush announced his policy, the controversy over federal funding concerned whether the public should fund the destruction of leftover IVF embryos for use in research. Pre-existing federal law prohibited such funding, and Bush merely issued an order consistent with this policy–while permitting ESCR on pre-existing cell lines.
Of course, the former assertion by biotechnologists that all they wanted were leftover IVF embryos that were due to be thrown out anyway is no longer operable. The National Academy of Sciences has okayed the making of embryos–both through cloning and fertilization–for use and destruction in research. If that is where the money donated to UCSF is going to be used, shame on them. In any event, there isn’t going to be any federal money available for such unethical research for a very long time.