Sunday, September 17, 2006

'Desperate Companies, Delusional Researchers'

The Center for Genetics and Society, which is practically a next-door neighbor to Advanced Cell Technology, has published a critical assessment of the company in connection with the latest controversy involving ACT's new stem cell extraction method.

The piece also reviewed ACT's previous announcements of research that did not fully pan out, including details that we have not seen elsewhere.

The center wrote:
"What's been little remarked upon, however, is that this pattern of hyperbole has come to characterize both the field of stem cell research and the political debate about it. Miracle cures for myriad diseases are promised by proponents of work with embryonic stem cells. Early-stage research and even speculative applications of hypothetical research are promoted to garner public support and venture capital. Researchers in white lab coats pitching the potential of embryonic stem cells are identified only as research scientists, when in fact they are often also the financial beneficiaries of biotech corporations. Meanwhile, reasonable and minimal regulations are criticized as thwarting scientific progress.

"Given this climate of exaggerated expectations, it shouldn't be that surprising that desperate companies and delusional researchers regularly come along, and take advantage of the public's hopes and misperceptions in order to boost their stock prices or careers."

"In this case, the weak link was the media, on whom the public relies for accurate and critical reporting. Instead of reading the scientific paper closely—which would have revealed that the embryos were destroyed—most reporters took the press releases issued by ACT and Nature at face value. Given ACT's sketchy history of swindling, seasoned journalists should have known better."
As for the physical location of the center and ACT, CGS is in Oakland which is linked by an underwater tunnel and draw bridges to the island (Alameda) in San Francisco Bay that houses ACT.

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