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Media Reporting Advisory: Debate Is On "Embryonic Stem Cell Research"  Not "Stem Cell Research."


Embryonic Stem Cell Research And Cloning Myths

The furious debate and “political science” surrounding embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) and cloning has generated several myths which has led to confusion about ESCR and cloning.  If the nation is going to have a serious debate about embryonic stem cell research, it must be done with clarity and truthfulness.  Here are some myths about embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

Myth # 1 President Bush created new restrictions to federal funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR).  President Bush did not restrict human ESCR funding.  He liberalized it.  Prior to August 9, 2001 it was illegal to use federal funds for research requiring the destruction of human embryos.  President Bush’s policy provides federal funding for research on embryonic stem cell lines in existence before August 2001.  Last year over $200 million was spent for stem cell research, of which about $190 million was allotted for research on adult stem cells and nearly $25 million for research on embryonic stem cell lines that existed prior to August 9, 2001.  There is no ban on private or state funded ESCR.  ESCR is not illegal in the United States.  Only federal funding on embryos destroyed after 2001 is banned. 

Myth #2 ESCR and cloning are illegal in the United States.  Only federal funding of ESCR using embryos destroyed after August 9, 2001 is prohibited.  Several states have moved in to provide money for ESCR and cloning.  There’s nothing the government can do to stop state, local and private organizations from funding or engaging in ESCR and cloning.  In fact, there are no limits on fetal farming, or human and animal hybrids.

Myth #3 All stem cells come from the same place.  All stem cells are embryonic.  ESCR advocates blur the distinctions between the types of stem cell research to make it appear that all stem cell research is the same, that it all has the same moral significance and that ESCR opponents are anti-stem cell research.   Stem cell research can generally be divided into two types, embryonic stem cell research and “adult” (non-embryonic stem cell research-ASCR).  The moral difference is the source of the stem cells. 

  1. Adult stem cells (ASCs) are cells that are derived from the patient’s own body, or from umbilical cord blood, placental tissues, amniotic fluid and other tissues as well as cadavers.   They are found all over the human body, and new research shows that they can be transformed into any other kind of cells. 

  2. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from human embryos-human beings in the embryonic stage of development.  There is no other way to obtain embryonic stem cells than to destroy the life of an embryonic human being.

Myth # 4 ESCR has shown the most promise in developing treatments and cures. After billions of private investment dollars and years of promises about cures, ESCR has not treated any human beings and there are no human trials.  ESCR in animal studies has caused teratomas and has proved to be too dangerous for human trials.  Private investment has deserted ESCR for ASCR because ASCR is already helping and curing thousands of people, there are over 80 ASCR cures or treatments including sickle cell anemia, and over 300 human trials on the way.  Bio-tech companies engaged in ESCR are broke and looking for the taxpayer to bail them out. 

See pp 21-27 of Dr. David Prentice’s Powerpoint presentation testimony to Congress regarding the current applications and clinical trials regarding ESCR and ASCR at http://www.cloninginformation.org/congressional_testimony/prentice_2005-01-03.pdf.

Myth #5. Opponents of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) oppose all stem cell research.  Nevada LIFE and other opponents of ESCR like the Catholic Bishops and other right to life groups are strong supporters of almost all stem cell research.  These supporters of stem cell research only oppose that small part of stem cell research that creates and destroys human life.  A person can be a strong supporter of stem cell research and oppose embryonic stem cell research at the same time.

Myth #6, There aren’t enough existing embryonic stem cell lines for research and they are in poor condition. Leon Kass PhD is the chairman of the President’s Council on Bio-Ethics.  Chairman Kass says there is no shortage of embryonic stem cells.  “…22 lines of eligible stem cells are available, up from just one line in the summer of 2002, with more coming -- enough lines for years of essential basic research that must precede any future therapy. Nearly 500 shipments of cells have already been made to researchers; 3,500 more sit ready for delivery upon request. There is no shortage of embryonic stem cells.” (Washington Post, October 8, 2004; Page A35).  Nevada LIFE does not support the use of these embryonic stem cells, but we support the funding restrictions on any new killing of human embryos for research.

Myth #7 ESCR Opponents Are Extremists. A poll by International Communications Research posed the question “should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?  13.3% said Yes:  79.8% said no.  Wilson Research Strategies, Inc. asked respondents “which of the following comes closest to your view?” in regards to human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. 24% said cloning to create human embryos for stem cell research, which would kill the embryos, should be allowed and only cloning for reproduction should be banned.  69% said all human cloning should be banned.  74 percent of Americans said that they support using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that does not require the killing of human embryos, while only 20 percent opposed.   A majority of Americans support a ban on both reproductive and research cloning. Many countries and international organizations, including the U.N, Germany, Switzerland, the European Parliament, and others, have banned all human cloning.

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