Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The California Stem Cell Agency and Multimillion Dollar Machinations in Washington

The directors of the California stem cell agency are preparing to jump into a brutal political fray in the hallowed halls of Congress that pits, in the views of some, a "global corporatist elite" against American entrepreneurs and inventors.

It is all about patent law and so-called reform. More than 100 lobbying firms representing at least 267 organizations have already joined the battle. Millions of dollars are being spent to influence the outcome.

Patent law is one of the more arcane subjects in the public policy arena. The CIRM directors Legislative Subcommittee is being asked to make a considered judgment on the controversial emotional and technical issues during a brief, 90-minute meeting on Monday that includes other significant matters.

And with only three business days before the meeting, CIRM has not publicly presented a summary of the legislation and issues. No analysis, no pros and cons and no rationale for why the state agency should be involved are available. The meeting agenda does not even state that patent reform is the matter to be discussed.

It is exceedingly unlikely, to put it mildly, that CIRM's position for or against the legislation will make a dime's worth of difference, given the vast number of players and their global importance. Directors should step back and rethink their policy on lobbying legislation either at the national or state level. CIRM has more than enough to do running a research program that will cost California taxpayers $6 billion, including interest.

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