Pro-Choice Genetics Think Tank Criticizes California Stem Cell Initiative;
Is Encouraged by Kerry Proposal
The Center for Genetics and Society, the liberal California
think tank, welcomed John Kerry's call for federal support of
stem cell research with "strict ethical oversight,"
but criticized the California Stem Cell Initiative, Proposition
"A more enlightened Administration committed to medical
advance in the context of social equity and responsible regulation
can provide new political space for a healthy dialog about the
new human biotechnologies," commented Marcy Darnovsky,
associate executive director of the Center.
"In the politically polarized atmosphere created by the
Bush Administration, the debate on stem cell research has until
recently been dominated by two constituencies," Darnovsky
said. "Religious conservatives want to outlaw all research
using human embryos, while the biotech industry and research
community resist even reasonable social oversight and control."
That situation is beginning to change, Darnovsky said. "Proposition
71's many and serious flaws have encouraged feminists and other
pro-choice liberals to voice their concerns about inadequately
regulated research involving stem cells and cloning. Today's
announcement by the California Nurses Association opposing Proposition
71 is the latest example."
The Center for Genetics and Society supports expanded embryonic
stem cell research. However, its analysis of Proposition 71
concludes that the measure:
to provide public accountability or public financial return
for a very large public investment,
to adequately regulate techniques that pose unique risks,
the biotechnology industry a privileged role in public policy
Californians with added debt when the state's deficit already
threatens social programs,
undermine health equity and women's health
"Proposition 71 would give complete control of three billion
dollars of the public's money to a committee dominated by people
who are part of or close to the institutions and companies that
would benefit from the funds," Darnovsky said.
"The measure would allow this committee to make its own
rules about informed consent, protection of research subjects,
and other matters," she added. "And this research
poses some unique risks. The need for large quantities of women's
eggs would create economic pressures on women to become egg
providers, and pose risks to their health. And without effective
societal oversight, the development of stem cell and research
cloning techniques could open the door to a new, high-tech eugenics."
The Center's extensive analysis of Proposition 71 and additional
information is available at: http://www.genetics-and-society.org/71