The agenda (see item below) for the group, operating under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, includes a host of major issues that states are grappling with across the country. They include model language for the term "acceptably derived," payment issues and health care for egg donors, certification of stem cell lines from other states and countries and the grant review process.
We applaud the decision to make the meeting public. Billions of dollars in public resources are involved along with the need to maintain confidence in embryonic stem cell research. Closed door meetings and secret processes generate suspicion and encourage the worst sort of speculation.
John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, was the man ousted from last May's meeting. He says,
"I'm glad to see the change of heart. Too often the scientific establishment has displayed a paternalistic 'trust-us-we-know-best' attitude that in fact undercuts public support for science. Scientists need to engage and educate, otherwise we end up with the know-nothing attitude too often exemplified by the current administration."