Sunday, January 29, 2006

CIRM: Moon Shot or Cautionary Tale or Both?

California's stem cell agency took a whack on the opinion page of one newspaper last Friday, but received a mild endorsement from another.

The San Jose Mercury News editorial urged patience, declaring that finding stem cell cures is an even bigger job than sending a man to the moon. It also rejected calls for the resignation of stem cell chairman Robert Klein, although it said he has "been less adept" at running the agency than selling Prop. 71 to voters. The newspaper said, "Californians should expect more bumps along the stem-cell research road in the months and years to come."

Writing on the op-ed page of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society had a harsher view. He warned that something akin to the Korean scandal could occur in California, a situation he said the agency has not come to grips with.

Reynolds wrote:
"…California could be in a position to adopt standards, policies and regulatory mechanisms that could serve as a model for the rest of the country – rather than the situation we're in now, in which California's stem cell research is best understood as a cautionary tale.
"On issue after issue, the leadership of California's stem cell research program argue that strong polices standards might sound good, but they will slow the research. But the result is that the program has put moving rapidly over moving responsibly."

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