A closer look at stem cell policy goes beyond the standard debate
Oakland-With candidates around the country using stem cell research as a wedge issue to rally their bases and a US Senate vote looming, it is time to look beyond the conventional but incomplete debate on this issue. The latest book in the Century Foundation's "Basics" series, Stem Cells and Public Policy [PDF], brings a new perspective to this ongoing national controversy. It offers a nuanced position on how to move forward with stem cell research in a way that maximizes the potential for advance while minimizing the various kinds of risks it poses.
"Stem cell technologies-and the new human biotechnologies more generally-are potentially of great benefit, but they also entail risks," says Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center and lead author of the new publication. "Without comprehensive national oversight and regulation, they could be used in ways that generate economic disparities, endanger women's and children's health, and open the door to socially unacceptable applications," he said.
With public debate focused largely on the question of whether stem cell research using human embryos should be allowed or not, a number of important social, political and economic questions raised by stem cell technologies have received scant public attention.
Stem Cells and Public Policy fills this gap. It provides a concise, comprehensive overview of basic stem cell science; potential therapeutic applications; ethical, social and political implications; the state of public opinion; and policy options. It addresses critical questions including the establishment of medical research priorities, the treatment of intellectual property rights, the protection of research subjects, the role of religious and scientific institutions in policy-making, and the effective national and international governance of the burgeoning field of biotechnology.
Stem Cells and Public Policy was written by Richard Hayes of the Center for Genetics and Society in collaboration with Pete Shanks and Marcy Darnovsky, under the direction of Leif Wellington Haase, health care fellow at The Century Foundation.
The full text of Stem Cells and Public Policy can be downloaded in PDF format at http://tcf.org/bookstore/detail/stem-cells-and-public-policy
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The Center for Genetics and Society is a public interest organization advocating responsible societal governance of the new human biotechnologies. It supports human embryonic stem cell research and public funding for it, but has raised numerous concerns about the conduct, oversight, and implications of stem cell research. For more information, visit our website at www.genetics-and-society.org
The Century Foundation conducts public policy research and analyses of economic, social, and foreign policy issues, including inequality, retirement security, election reform, media studies, homeland security, and international affairs. The foundation produces books, reports, and other publications; convenes task forces and working groups; and operates seven informational websites. With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Century Foundation is nonprofit and nonpartisan and was founded in 1919 by Edward A. Filene