Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's Politics, Baby!

Reading about stem cell research, and the Wikipedia has some interesting stuff about the politics surrounding the whole situation.
Because of Christian opposition to research and his own personal views on the subject, US President George W. Bush announced on August 9, 2001 that he would prohibit the use of federal funding to work with embryonic cell lines created after that date, limiting research to a limited number of embryonic stem cell lines and adult stem cells. He has appointed an arguably conservative Council on Bioethics, a collection of 18 doctors, legal and ethical scholars, scientists and a journalist in 2002. In February, 2004 President Bush removed from the council a professor of ethics, William May, and a biologist, Elizabeth Blackburn. These two outspoken advocates of stem cell research were replaced with Benjamin Carson, Diana Schaub and Peter Lawler, all three of whom have expressed more conservative views on biotechnology.

As other countries, including South Korea (successfully cloning human embryos in early 2004 and extracting stem cells from them) and the United Kingdom (creating the world's first stem cell bank in May 2004) have moved forward with their stem cell research programs, many in the US have questioned the Bush's policy severely restricting government-funded stem-cell research. In April 2004 206 members of Congress and some other prominent public figures signed a letter urging President Bush to reconsider the policy.

The Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, a practicing Roman Catholic himself, has pledged to increase stem cell research if elected president.