Embryonic Stem Cell Research Likely Won't Cure Any Diseases
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Likely Won't Cure Any Diseases
by Wesley Smith
LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His next book, to be published in the fall, is Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World.
Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the cloned sheep, wants your tax dollars to pay Big Biotech and their business partners in elite university life-science departments to conduct research into human cloning. Wilmut dropped this little bon mot to the London Telegraph while on his way to the United Nations to lobby against a pending international protocol that would outlaw all human-somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning. He took the opportunity of being interviewed to grouse that America's refusal to publicly fund research into human cloning is stifling science and slowing the development of new medical cures.
Wilmut's complaint is part of an intense public-relations campaign intended to pressure federal and state governments to publicly fund human cloning. Yet only three years ago, during the great stem-cell debate of 2001, biotech advocates assured a wary nation that they only wanted taxpayers to pay for embryonic-stem-cell research (ESCR) that would be strictly limited to using embryos leftover from in-vitro-fertilization treatments. After a protracted political struggle, President Bush partially accommodated the request by allowing federal funding on embryonic stem-cell lines already in existence as of August 9, 2001.
But now, we are being told that ESCR alone won't lead to treatments for degenerative diseases and disabilities such as Parkinson's, spinal-cord injury, Lou Gehrig's disease, juvenile diabetes, and the like. It seems that our bodies might reject tissues developed from natural embryos. Indeed, according
I am sorry but I was there for many of the debates and Wesley Smith's description of both the science and the debate is simply wrong. I don't have time to counter everything that is wrong about this article but let me just highlight a few.
• The article starts out by attacking Ian Wilmut. The problem is not Ian Wilmut, but Wesley Smith. Here is a man who describes himself as "senior fellow" at the Disovery institute and who is trying to make money off the backs of people who need therapies. His only qualification appears to be that of an attorney who served on the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and then wrote a book called "Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder", sensationalizing the plight of dying people. He has no stake, no expertise, and no undertanding of the stem cell issue. Worse, he is making money from this issue.
• Smith talks about an intense public-relations compaign to pressure federal and state government to publicly fund human cloning. He is wrong. This campaign is about an ignorant U.S. government restricting one of the most important developments in biology of this century, the tyranny of a minority of fearful individuals who don't understand the science and can only think of slippery slopes rather than the lives of people lost, and the imposition of their fear and ignorance on billions of people around the world. What about that public relations campaign?
• Smith knows that a large majority of people in the United States favor research on stem cells obtained from discarded embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics. Yet, he chooses to pretend that cloning is what embryonic stem cell research is all about. He knows that he does not have an effective argument against human embryonic stem cell research and therefore chooses to focus on cloning instead.
• Smith is remarkably ignorant, even about cloning. It is so sad. He suggests that there is a dearth of eggs (i.e. that it would require 100 million eggs to treat 100 million people and that this is an impossible number). There is no dearth of eggs. There are currently at least 2 billion women around the world who are discarding eggs every month. He cites a 3-year old National Academy of Science Report saying that it takes about 100 eggs to produce one cloned stem cell line, not realizing that recent studies have shown that pathenogenesis can produce stem cell lines with less than 10 eggs. He also claims that the procedure will be impossibly expensive. This was the same claim that was made about in vitro fertilization 30 years ago. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are getting in vitro fertilization and they are donating eggs in quantities of 10 or more, getting them fertilized, and transplanted.
• Has Smith considered the possibility that the main reason why the procedure has not become more efficient is because research to create new human embryonic stem cells has been restricted in the United States? He claims that Bush is allowing limited embryonic stem cell research and implies that the federal government is not holding back private embryonic stem cell research. This is not true. The federal government is not merely "not funding" human embryonic stem cell research. Do people know that the current administration will not allow a laboratory that is partly funded by NIH to study or even keep non-approved stem cell lines in the laboratory? Since 90% of the best laboratories in the country are funded by NIH, this is significant restriction of research.
• Adult stem cell research. Many scientists, including myself, strongly support adult stem cell research but not the exclusion of embryonic stem cell research. The problems that Smith talks about (i.e. the expense and lack of a business model) apply to adult stem cells as well. It is just as inefficient and expensive to isolate and grow adult stem cells. Most companies do not see a business model in doing that and hence have not invested in adult stem cell research. Please, one final point. Smith cites Lima's work as an example of adult stem cells at work. Olfactory ensheathing glial cells are not stem cells.
[This message was edited by Wise Young on 06-08-04 at 11:47 AM.]
That site is a prolife site. They will lie to get their point across!