Embryonic stem cells: hype, not hope
The new Congress is putting forward legislation to divert taxpayer dollars towards embryonic stem cell research. The miracle cures promisedbyembryonicstemcellsisthegreatest example of hype and distortion since the inanity surrounding Y2K and prediction of the coming apocalypse.
RememberthewordsofSen.JohnEdwards beforethelastelection:“Ifwedotheworkthat wecandointhiscountry,theworkthatwewill do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.” This was callous politics at its worst. Even Reeve’s own researchers have admitted that the promise of embryonic stem cells has been grossly exaggerated.
Themediahasdisingenuouslyportrayedthe debateonstemcellsasonebetweenprogressive scienceandbackwardethics.Thishasdistorted the feebleness and sometimes deceit of the scientific claims made on behalf of embryonic stem cells and thereby misled the public.
The fact is that adult stem cells (harvested from adult bone marrow, umbilical cords, etc) havebeenprovenimmenselyeffective. Tomake matters worse, 20 years ago we were told that being able to grow any tissue type desired from embryonic stem cells was “an essential first step.” Despite tens of millions of dollars and decades of worldwide research, this “first step” hasnotbeenachieved.Indeed,oneoftheworld’s preeminent and renowned stem cell experts, Professor Lord Winston, recently stated, “ I am not convinced that embryonic stem cells will, in my lifetime and possibly anybody’s lifetime for thatmatter,beholdingquitethepromisethatwe desperately hope they will.”
So why are people pushing this seemingly false hope and doubtful “potential” at taxpayer expense? Well, there appears to be three types of ardent advocates. First, executives of biotech firms doing the research. For them, it is not a questionofmorals,butprofits.Thesecondgroup is politicians who are used to making false and grandiose promises for political gain. The last group is the most reprehensible: those who are trying to justify the destruction of human embryos merely to advance an ideology. John M. Clegg Ponte Vedra, Florida