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From sci-fi to sci-fact: Panel releases new embryonic stem cell research guidelines

By Sharon Hughes
web posted May 2, 2005

Alba the florescent bunnyNo longer just a plot in the movies, scientists can now merge species, such as Alba the florescent bunny. Not only that, but they can merge man and animals, man and machine, reproduce outside of the womb, and clone humans as well as their cats. To some these are exciting breakthroughs in bio-technology, to others it's like a sci-fi thriller or nightmare.

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 27, 2005, a 20-member panel picked by the National Academies, a Congress commissioned independent organization, released their 131-page report with guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research "offering a system of institutional self-policing as a way to move the politically contentious research forward." These guidelines, while applying to all stem cell research, would be voluntary.

The guidelines include:

  1. Consent needs to be obtained from the donor before an embryo can be used to produce stem cells.
  2. Human embryos used for research should be discarded after 14 days.
  3. Human stem cells should not be introduced into other humans or non-human primates.
  4. Human stem cells can be introduced into non-human mammals when no other experiment can provide the information needed.
  5. No animal into which stem cells have been introduced should be allowed to breed.

The panel also addressed two aspects of cloning recommending that cloning for reproductive purposes is unethical and should not be done, however, a cloning technique used to create embryos for therapeutic purposes, called nuclear transfer, could be used which "may be needed to cultivate a patient's own stem cells".

The new guidelines are "critical" to California being able to spend the $3 billion Prop 71 authorized the state to spend on stem cell and cloning research last year. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others re-introduced a bill in the Senate last week that contains similar provisions as the new guidelines. However, Republicans do not favor the bill or "destroying young human lives for the benefit of others," as represented by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).

Please take note that these are voluntary guidelines using the word 'should' versus 'must' or 'must not', including that human embryos "used for research should not be grown in culture for more than 14 days." In other words, 'should' be destroyed.

I want to encourage everyone to do some research on how the eugenics movement began in Germany, as well as here in the United States before WWII...with the doctors. Edwin Black, the five-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, has done extensive research on this subject in his books, War on the Weak, IBM and the Holocaust, and others. His commentaries can also be found on our web site at www.changingworldviews.com.

If we continue to devalue human life and allow it's destruction in the name of research or for any other reason, then it will only be a matter of time until we see more cases such as Terri Schiavo's, the acceptance of doctor-assisted suicide, and the killing of defective babies after they are born, up to three months old, as advocated by Peter Singer of Princeton University.

Where will we draw the line on what we will and will not do to humans? Will we stand by and watch this kind of sci-fi become sci-fact? It's our choice. We each have a voice. Will we use it, is the question.

Sharon is the President of The Center for Changing Worldviews, and hosts Changing Worldviews TALK Radio which is heard on KDIA AM1640 San Francisco, KGDP in Santa Maria, CA and WITA AM1490 Knoxville,TN, as well as online daily at Oneplace.com, and Thursdays on RIGHTALK.com. For further information visit her website at www.changingworldviews.com, blogsite at http://changingworldviews.blogspot.com or contact her at sharon@changingworldviews.com© Sharon Hughes 2005


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