Saturday, December 01, 2007

Stem Cells A'Plenty

Can Science Save the GOP?

This Time Magazine column says it can't. New procedures have been discovered to coax adult skin cells into a pluripotent form, perhaps as effective as controversial embryonic stem cells.

The author, stricken with Parkinson's disease, says not only that we shouldn't abandon research on embryonic stem cells, but we should not forget the six years between Bush's funding decision in 2001 and now because they demonstrate the GOP's misplaced value of embryos over the ill.

While one must have some sympathy of the author's personal plight, I am also within my rights to be insulted by the insinuation that Republicans just don't care. Diseases potentially treatable by embryonic stem cells don't just target Democrats. Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain all have had cancer, and Mitt Romney's wife Ann suffers from multiple sclerosis. My own grandfather suffered from Parkinson's disease before developing terminal lymphoma. My other grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Pardon me if I take the author's Absolute Moral Authority™ with a grain of salt.

The author claims that Bush "ban[ned] almost all federal financing of embryonic-stem-cell research in 2001" when in fact there had never been any federal financing, and that "[t]he result has been a severe reduction in embryonic-stem-cell research," which is clearly false since there had never been significant research in this area, and is further false in that research has increased due to private and state level initiatives.

Like the Time author, I was once of the opinion that discarded embryos from fertility clinics might be an acceptable source of scientific material. I was later made aware of what would likely happen if embryonic stem cell research actually turned out to be as good as we've been promised; Millions of human embryos would need to be cloned in colossal scientific facilities in order to meet the demand for compatible tissue. Excuse me if I think that sounds a bit creepy.

Hearing once again about how the Republicans "don't believe in science", I'm also reminded of the Left's tendency to oppose some other science that benefits man - genetic modifications of food-source organisms. We dare not eat cloned beef, pest-resistant corn, or vitamin enhanced rice. Some would rather we not even spray our crops with insecticides. We can't "play God" by genetically altering our food, but we can genetically alter ourselves any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Monsanto is the bogeyman.

The hypocrisy boggles the mind.

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