Tuesday, December 18, 2012

California Editorial Unamity: Stem Cell Agency Needs Revamp

With the addition of another editorial this week, reaction among California newspapers so far has been unanimous that the $3 billion California stem cell agency should heed the sweeping recommendations of the prestigious Institute of Medicine.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise added its voice yesterday, declaring,
“Good intentions do not justify poor practice.”
Like others, the newspaper said that the agency “needs to revamp its governance structure to avoid potential conflicts of interest and boost public confidence in the agency.”

The Riverside paper focused on the conflicts of interest at the organization, which has seen about 90 percent of its funding go to institutions with ties to directors, but also supported other recommendations, including elimination of the dual executive arrangement at the research effort. 

The editorial said,
“An agency spending Californians’ money has no business being cavalier about good government practice and ethical safeguards — no matter how promising the potential therapies might be. The stem-cell institute is not a private fiefdom, but a taxpayer-supported undertaking. Yet many on the stem-cell institute’s board objected this month to the report’s recommendations.
“The agency also said that Prop. 71’s provisions mean that enacting many of the proposed fixes would require either a supermajority vote of the Legislature or another ballot measure. That prospect should warn Californians about the dangers of voting for complex, costly, politically driven initiatives that have little to do with fundamental state duties.
“Still, the stem-cell agency cannot just sit on these recommendations without damaging its credibility. The search for medical breakthroughs does not justify ignoring vital safeguards for spending taxpayer dollars.”
For a look at other editorials, see here and here.

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