Thursday, November 29, 2007

CIRM Media Coverage: Conflicts to Anachronisms

A spate of articles has surfaced in the last couple of days concerning the $3 billion California stem cell agency, conflicts of interest and a new state audit of three-year-old effort.

Here is a quick rundown.

Sacramento Bee
-- An editorial today praised the audit ordered by state Controller John Chiang. The first paragraph of piece said,
"Why is California's quasi-public stem cell research institute mired in questions over expenditures and backdoor lobbying? Part of the blame falls to the state's lawmakers and constitutional officers, who have failed to conduct proper oversight of this $3 billion agency."
San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece today – Written by Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society, it said,
"The shortcomings at CIRM run deeper than a handful of individuals. Proposition 71 not only vested governance of $3 billion in public money in those who seek to maximize their own share, but it is riddled with exceptions to the norms of public oversight, accountability and transparency. In this context, last week's development is an unfortunate but predictable result."
Reynolds also wrote a similar piece on his
his organization's blog, the Biopolitical Times.

The Niche (stem cell blog of Nature magazine) – Monya Baker attended Tuesday's meeting at which the audit was announced. She wrote on Nov. 27,
"Before and after the meeting (John M.) Simpson (of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) and (California stem cell Chairman Robert) Klein could be seen talking spiritedly to each other, but they did not seem hostile. In conversations I overheard, one committee member told Simpson that CIRM members shouldn’t be expected to have the savvy of public officials. Klein told Simpson that lives could be lost if research was prevented, and Simpson said repeatedly that those entrusted with public funds need to be held accountable with public scrutiny."
Wired.comA piece by this writer on Chiang's audit order and call for a separate investigation into the attempt by CIRM Director John Reed to influence a grant to his organization, the Burnham Institute.

San Diego Union-Tribune -- Terri Somers reported on Nov. 28 on the Chiang audit and said that Reed and Klein both say they will not resign.

San Jose Mercury News -- Steve Johnson wrote on Nov. 27 that Klein said he welcomed the audit.

San Francisco Chronicle
– An editorial Nov. 28 said,
"As if stem cell work wasn't challenging enough, California is making harder. The voter-backed Institute for Regenerative Medicine has encountered its own ethical trouble. A board member lobbied the stem cell research body to overturn a rejected research proposal from a colleague. It was an intolerable violation of ethical guidelines. Stem cell work both here and nationally must adhere to the highest standards."

Secondhand Smoke
, blog by Wesley J. Smith, who opposes hESC – Smith today cited the Reynolds piece and said,
"The science climate has changed since the passage of Proposition 71 and its structural problems continue. In light of the new science breakthroughs and the continuing questionable decision making, perhaps it's time not to borrow billions of dollars for human cloning research in a state once again drowning in red ink."
IP Biz blog – Larry Ebert wrote,
"Klein and californiastemcellreport are fast becoming anachronisms."

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