Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stem Cell Ethics Rules "Flawed"

The Center for Genetics and Society says that the recently adopted ethics standards of the California stem cell agency are "fundamentally flawed" and that its intellectual property rules are unlikely to come close to recouping the cost of the agency's program.

In its most recent newsletter, the center, a longtime critic of CIRM, says,
"While the research standards adopted by the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) have some improvements in the details, the core of the policy remains inadequate. It leaves the approval of research protocols to local 'Stem Cell Research Oversight Committees' that will be formed by, and affiliated with, the institutions doing the research.

"These committees will consist largely of stem cell researchers themselves and their colleagues from related scientific fields, whose sympathies and loyalties are likely to lie with their institutions and with the research. Further, there will be no oversight of these committees, and key information will not be available to the public for scrutiny."
The center continued,
"The state's share of revenues under the new policy on intellectual property is unlikely to make a significant dent in the $6 billion cost of the program, and it is far from clear that this huge public investment in stem cell research is the best use of funds to promote the health of most Californians."
The center noted that the campaign for Prop. 71 promised that the program would pay for itself. Of course, those promises were based on a study that the campaign purchased.

The center's newsletter, Genetic Crossroads, provides a useful overview of recent events involving CIRM, including links to other coverage. But it includes many other topics as well. For example, the Feb. 23 edition includes research cloning, a recap of the latest developments in the Hwang affair, coverage of the Schatten case and other stories on related matters in this country and abroad. The newsletter is available by free electronic subscription.

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