News Analysis
Stem Cell Policy
Drug Development
AIDS in Africa
Investor Profile
Larry Ellison
Case Studies
In Every Issue
Editor's Letter


The Consequences of Restrictions on Human Stem Cell Research

When President Bush limited his approval on cell lines, he forced U.S. researchers to abandon their most promising new science—or their homes.

Stem cells are pluripotent entities—that is, equally able to become anything in the body—a kind of single-celled egalitarianism that is limited only in the egalitarian United States, where exploiting this versatility is seen as a threat to moral values. Shortly after taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush called for a review of former President Bill Clinton's 1999 policy, which provided federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Nine months later, President Bush announced that funding from the National Institutes of Health could be used for research only with preëxisting stem cell lines, and that no federal funds might be used for the creation or use of stem cell lines derived from newly destroyed embryos, or used to clone human embryos for any purpose. Later that same year, the House of Representatives followed the administration and, by a vote of 265 to 162, chose to ban the cloning of humans and to criminalize a cloning technique called nuclear transplantation. The penalty was set at a $1 million fine and years in jail.

In January 2002, Senator Sam Brownback (R:�Kansas) introduced a proposal that supported the House's bill (see "Embryonic Stem Cells," page 11 of the Journal, Issue 1). When the Senate failed to vote on it last year and left the bill for the 108th Congress to reconsider, Senator Brownback was undeterred: he maneuvered the bill out of the purview of the Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch (R: Utah), supports stem cell research, and he has vowed to bring his bill to a vote once again. Stem cell research of any sort might soon be illegal in the United States.