20 June 2007

All the benefits, none of the problems

It is a sad fact that many who preach tolerance in our society are some of its poorest examples. This is true in the debate over embryonic stem cells. I count myself among the Americans that are uncomfortable with the creation and/or destruction of human embryos for the purposes of research. I have been supportive of the Bush Administration's decision to restrict Federal spending of embryonic stem cells research. Despite the protests of some, the Federal Government has not outlawed such research.

Stem Cell Research is a relatively new science. I am not a scientist, but I know that embryonic research has not yet yielded miracle cures, and may not be any more fruitful than research done on adult stem cells.

The bitter debate over this issue is not a constructive one, so I was very happy to see this article on a new kind of therapy that bypasses the ethical dilemmas posed by embryonic stem cell research (via Instapundit):

Only a few days ago an article in the leading journal Nature brought amazing news. A Japanese team at Kyoto University has discovered how to reprogram skin cells so that they "dedifferentiate" into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell. From this they can be morphed, theoretically, into any cell in the body, a property called pluripotency. It could be the Holy Grail of stem cell science: a technique that is both feasible and unambiguously ethical.
"Neither eggs nor embryos are necessary. I've never worked with either," says Shinya Yamanaka. The first instalment of his research appeared a year ago -- and was greeted with polite scepticism by his colleagues. At the time they were mesmerised by dreams of cloning embryos and dissecting them for their stem cells.

So far naysayers have nothing to back up their concerns except for vague possibilities. The poltical element makes this a hot issue. That's a shame.

Don't expect supporters of embryonic stem cell research to respond rationally, not in the short term, at least. The other day, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel told the US House of Representatives as he voted to overturn the Bush policy: "It is ironic that every time we vote on this legislation, all of a sudden there is a major scientific discovery that basically says, 'You don't have to do [embryonic] stem cell research.' "
Connect the dots, Mr Emanuel. Maybe you don't have to.

Too bad Mr. Emanual and his ilk can't greet this development with cheer. It doesn't fit their paradigm. Fortunately it fits mine just right.

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