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CGS's campaign website opposing Proposition 71

November 10th, 2004

Archived campaign webpage

The Center for Genetics and Society opposed Proposition 71, the "California Stem Cell Research Initiative" on the November 2 ballot. It grants control over a huge allocation of public funds for controversial research to a particular set of interested parties insulated from public accountability. While we believe that appropriately regulated embryonic stem cell research should be supported, a close analysis of Proposition 71 raises an array of concerns.

The measure:

newsletter authorizes $3 billion in tax-supported bonds to fund stem cell research, explicitly including the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) techniques;

newsletter amends the state constitution to establish a "California Institute for Regenerative Medicine" to administer these funds;

newsletter amends the state constitution to include a "right to conduct stem cell research."

Contents and links

Summary of the Center's concerns

CGS assessment of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act

Center for Genetics and Society news releases

Pro-choice, progressive and liberal voices and concerns

California information on Proposition 71 from the Secretary of State and Legislative Analyst's Office

Key groups

Opinion and commentary

Newspaper editorials and organizational positions

News coverage

Investigative reporting

Background on the technologies

More information


Summary of the Center's concerns

1. Proposition 71 amends the California state constitution to include a "right to conduct stem cell research" - a sort of "right" which is very different from the kinds of fundamental public protections that state constitutions are meant to provide.

2. Proposition 71 vests control of the $3 billion of public funds in a new "Institute for Regenerative Medicine" controlled by a governing body dominated by people who are part of or close to the institutions and companies that will benefit from the funds.

3. Although embryonic stem cell research is one of many types of biomedical research worthy of public funding, it is difficult to justify a state committing $300 million a year for ten years to this single area of research, with no ability to reevaluate if the research results are not as promising as scientists now hope.

4. Proposition 71 specifies that the Institute it establishes sets its own rules, thus exempting it from oversight by elected officials and from a body of state and federal regulations, including those that address informed consent and protection of research subjects.

5. Proposition 71 endorses and prioritizes somatic cell nuclear transfer, or research cloning, but provides no meaningful oversight and control of this work.

6. Proposition 71's appeal is based in large part on its promise of likely treatments and cures for a wide range of diseases. This prospect has generated great hope, but is difficult to evaluate because the research is at a very early stage.

Center for Genetics and Society news releases

Press conference: Pro-choice opposition to Proposition 71(October 27, 2004)

Pro-Choice Concerns About Calif. Stem Cell Initiative Grow (October 5 , 2004)

The California Stem Cell Initiative (September 24, 2004)

California information on Proposition 71 from the Secretary of State and Legislative Analyst's Office

Voter pamphlet (includes title and summary, legislative analysis, and arguments and rebuttals) [PDF]

Text of Proposed Law [PDF]

An Overview of State Bond Debt Prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office (July 2004)

Key groups

newsletter Pro-Choice Alliance Against Proposition 71
http://www.allianceagainstprop71.org

newsletter "California Nurses' Association Opposes Prop. 71"
http://cna.igc.org/cna/press/

newsletter Doctors, Patients and Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility
http://www.noon71.org/

newsletter Californians for Stem Cell Research and Cures
http://www.yeson71.org/

Opinion and commentary

Newspaper editorials and organizational positions

News coverage

Investigative reporting

Several of the researchers who have played key roles in crafting the California initiative are profiled in:

newsletter Neil Munro, "Academics' Ties to Business Muddy Disclosure Decisions," The Scientist (April 21, 2003)
http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2003/apr/prof4_030421.html

newsletter Neil Munro, "Doctor Who? Scientists are treated as objective arbiters in the cloning debate. But most have serious skin in the game," Washington Monthly (November 2002)
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0211.munro.html


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