NYT Inadvertently Confirms IBD’s Logic in Denouncing Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Decision
In a scathing editorial Monday, the folks at IBDeditorials.com ripped President Barack Obama's misguided, life-destroying, science-denying Executive Order that allows federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR).
Later, Nicholas Wade at the New York Times, in two paragraphs of his March 10 report ("Rethink Stem Cells? Science Already Has"), in essence confirmed the validity of IBD's claim about ESCR's relative uselessness in treating diseases and other human maladies -- something adult stem cells, a blanket term describing any stem cells obtained from other human sources without destroying human life, are already doing.
IBD's editorial shows that one doesn't even have to be religious to recognize the fundamental disregard for science and ethics in Obama's EO (bolds are mine):
Bailing Out Bad Science
..... With Obama lifting the restrictions on Monday, we will now be federally funding research that has yet to produce a single therapy or a single treatment of an actual human being, at least one that works. It has generated a lot of hope but very little change. It is he who is putting ideology over science.
What has handcuffed our scientists is the difficulty of controlling embryonic stem cells and what they develop into. They're called pluripotent because they can develop into any type of human tissue, sometimes all at once.
Embryonic stem cells have a tendency to develop into one of the most primitive and terrifying forms of cancer, a tumor called a teratoma. Adult stem cells don't have that problem.
..... It's in the area of adult stem cell research that new discoveries are being made every day. Fact is, there are now hundreds of conditions and diseases actually being treated using adult stem cells drawn from umbilical cord blood and other nonembryonic sources.
..... Bush's executive order banned federal funding only of new stem cell lines. Neither federal funding of existing lines nor private funding was banned. In fact, Bush was the first president to spend any money on ESCR at all. Clinton spent zero.
The (Los Angeles) Times notes, as we have, that in 2006 researchers led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan's Kyoto University were first able to "reprogram" human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. But it claims the potential of these induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) "is still unclear."
No, it's not. They can do everything stem cells from destroyed embryos can do, except without the moral baggage or the destroyed embryos.
I would replace "can do" in the last sentence with "someday dream of doing," but that's a relative quibble.
Wade's report at the New York Times buttressed IBD's claims, especially in these two paragraphs:
Members of Congress and advocates for fighting diseases have long spoken of human embryonic stem cell research as if it were a sure avenue to quick cures for intractable afflictions. Scientists have not publicly objected to such high-flown hopes, which have helped fuel new sources of grant money like the $3 billion initiative in California for stem cell research.
In private, however, many researchers have projected much more modest goals for embryonic stem cells. Their chief interest is to derive embryonic stem cell lines from patients with specific diseases, and by tracking the cells in the test tube to develop basic knowledge about how the disease develops.
- The second excerpted paragraph says nothing about using the results of ESCR for actual treatments or cures. This means, unlike with adult stem cells, that treatments or cures with ESCR aren't even on the realistic scientific "chief interest" radar. Thus, Wade confirms that IBD is asserting the unvarnished truth.
- Apparently "many researchers," as noted in the first excerpted paragraph, are speaking "in private" because of fear of intimidation and retribution by ESCR supporters if they speak in public. It appears that we are seeing a situation analogous to how those who don't buy into the Armageddon-like assertions of the global warming/climate change crowd are afraid of speaking out.
A further point from another source -- an Ohio Right to Life e-mail reproduced at this Topix forum notes that the final paragraph of Obama's Executive Order (specifically saying that "Executive Order 13435 of June 20, 2007, which supplements the August 9, 2001, statement on human embryonic stem cell research, is revoked") removes the Bush-driven EO mandate that the Secretary of Health and Human Services pursue funding for adult stem cell research (ASCR).
Thus, not only has Obama dictated that ESCR be funded, he has removed any corresponding mandate for ASCR. He did not have to do this to satisfy ESCR supporters. This is of a piece with Obama's radically anti-life legislative history, where as an Illinois Senator would not support a Born Alive Infant Protection Act because he feared it might open the tiniest door to recognition that an unborn child is deserving of the same protections as humans living outside the womb.
Even beyond the life-destruction issues, Obama's EO not only opens the federal funding door wide open to what hasn't worked, it takes away any incentive to assist what has. This is as profoundly an anti-real science decision as I believe I has ever seen out of any White House.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.