Federal Funds Shouldn’t Go To Embryonic Stem Cell Research And Not Just For Moral Reasons

Yesterday, George Bush used his first veto to block government money from being used to fund embryonic stem cell research. Although, I’d have preferred for him to use that big first veto, that will get so much attention, to block a pork barrel spending bill, I support his decision.

That being said, the debate over whether using embryonic stem cells is moral, which has been what almost everyone has been focusing on, is more than a little bit premature given that currently there’s no area where embryonic stem cells show more promise than adult stem cells.

Here’s more on that from Michael Fumento:

“Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) receive tremendous media attention, with oft-repeated claims that they have the potential to cure virtually every disease known. Yet there are spoilsports, self included, who point out that they have yet to even make it into a human clinical trial. This is even as alternatives – adult stem cells (ASCs) from numerous places in the body as well as umbilical cord blood and placenta – are curing diseases here and now and have been doing so for decades. And that makes ESC advocates very, very angry.

How many diseases ASCs can treat or cure is debatable, with one website claiming almost 80 for umbilical cord blood alone. Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council, using stricter standards of evidence, has constituted a list of 72 for all types of ASCs. But now three ESC advocates have directly challenged Prentice’s list. They’ve published a letter in Science magazine, released ahead of publication obviously to influence Pres. Bush’s promise to veto legislation that would open wide the federal funding spigot for ESC research. The letter claims ASC “treatments fully tested in all required phases of clinical trials and approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration are available to treat only nine of the conditions” on his list.

Well! One answer to that is that it’s nine more than can be claimed for ESCs. Further, there are 1175 clinical trials for ASCs, including those no longer recruiting patients, with zero for ESCs.”

Now, here’s Ann Coulter on the same subject:

“…(T)he embryonic stem-cell researchers have produced nothing. They have treated nothing. They have not even begun one human clinical trial. They’ve successfully treated a few rodents, but they are running into two problems. First, the cells tend to be rejected by the immune system. Second, they tend to cause malignancies called teratomas — meaning “monster tumors.” The idea that stem cells are on the verge of curing anything is absurd. It’s possible embryonic stem-cell research could find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease someday only in the sense that it possible that a biologist’s toenail clippings could be used to find a cure for Alzheimer’s someday.”

And read this last excerpt from Steven Milloy and you’ll begin to understand why there has been such a push for Federal funding of embryonic stem cells over the last few years:

“The reason that embryonic stem cell researchers are agitating for taxpayer money is that their private funding has dried up. Private investors and venture capitalists are not investing in embryonic stem cell research because they perceive it to be a pipe dream unlikely to produce any progress and, hence, investment returns, in any reasonable time frame.

Researchers aspiring to be on the dole and investors whose money is mired in floundering stem cell research firms are looking to federal funds for relief. Such groups already hoodwinked California voters for $3 billion last year with Proposition 71 — a sum that pales in comparison with what Congress could slop in their troughs.

The bottom line is that if embryonic stem cell research had real promise, private investment would be overflowing into biotech companies. But it’s not.”

Since this is the case, why are we even having this debate? It’s because of a brilliant bit of rhetorical jujitsu on the part of embryonic stem cell researchers. Because the debate has been over morality, people mistakenly assume that embryonic stem cells must be superior to adult stem cells or else, the debate never would have gotten this far.

The truth is that if we’re going to spend taxpayer money on stem cells, that money should be spent on adult stem cell research, because it clearly has a much better chance of producing results.

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