Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The $25 Million Bioethicists' Dog

The blog at the American Journal of Bioethics has addressed the issue of big money and "the butcher's avarice" in the stem cell wars being fought across the country in this fall's election.

Specifically Jim Fossett, director of health and Medicaid studies at the Rockefeller Institute, wrote on Oct. 21 about the Missouri tussle and noted how California led the way. He also had this to say:
"There are huge amounts of money at stake in the embryonic stem cell research debate, and much of the political and financial support for such initiatives is coming from parties that expect to get something out of them—large research grants, potentially lucrative patents and commercial opportunities, scientific prestige, political credit and campaign contributions, tax revenue and jobs. Bioethicists also have a dog in this fight — CIRM’s draft strategic plan earmarks $25 million to examine the social, ethical, etc. implications of stem cell research, and there have been complaints from some quarters that this isn’t enough. By the rules that govern politics and the markets, this is absolutely ok. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances is enshrined in the Constitution, and capitalism relies on rewards to those who provide society with useful things. The desire for money and status is perfectly compatible with, and is frequently accompanied by, a deeply felt desire to do good and heal the sick. Those who find the scramble for money distasteful might usefully contemplate Adam Smith—'It is not by the butcher’s altruism, but by his avarice, that we may expect to receive our dinner.'"
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