Sunday, June 05, 2005

CIRM Battling on Wrong Turf

From the White House to India, readers around the world on Sunday were told of the travails of the California stem cell agency.

"A battle for control of the $3 billion in research money voters approved last year has unraveled the alliance and threatens to hinder the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine even before it awards its first grant, agency officials say."

That was the second paragraph of a 788-word story by biotechnology reporter Paul Elias of The Associated Press. The story was circulated globally by the news service.

The story primarily focused on the battle over SCA13, the proposed ballot measure to tighten oversight of the agency. Pretty familiar ground for readers of this blog, but new to most others.

What makes this important for the agency is the continuing drumbeat of negative coverage nationally and internationally. While Elias' piece was straightforward, its overall impact was not good for the agency. It should instead be generating coverage of accomplishment and good works.

CIRM is fighting a PR battle on its enemies' turf instead of building on the considerable good will coming out of last fall's election in which 59 percent of the voters approved creation of the agency. It is time for the agency to do what is necessary to defuse the major issues so that it can move beyond the corrosive criticism that is eroding its effectiveness.

That also seems to the sentiment of at least one member of the stem cell Oversight committee, Dr. Francisco Prieto. He told Elias that he hopes a compromise can be reached soon on SCA13.

"I think the approach we have taken as a board has been more confrontational than it needs to be," Prieto said.

For more on the long range impact of the proposed ballot measure, see the "Vote Again..." item April 15 on this blog. Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Post a Comment