Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Soup Du Jour is Stem Cell/Human Cloning Misinformation

I'm convinced that stem cell research is probably one of the most misunderstood issues in today's political marketplace. Ordinary people, individuals in the media and politicians continuously say things which leave me scratching my head. I think the main reason for this is that certain politicians have seen this issue as a way to score points/get votes.

A recent press conference by a new organization called the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures and the media reports of this conference highlight that point.

For example, in this Grand Rapids Press article a woman named Cathy Coury whose sons have juvenile diabetes and who is the legislative chairwoman of the West Michigan Juvenile Diabetes Foundation "believes, if Michigan law were changed, allowing researchers to use embryonic stem cells in their search for a cure" her children "could be freed from the insulin pumps that keep them alive."

For one, Michigan law doesn't disallow researchers from using embryonic stem cells. In fact, the University of Michigan has received federal funding to experiment on embryonic stem cells. Michigan law disallows researchers from killing human embryos for research.

Second, who has been telling this woman that embryonic stem cells will cure her sons of juvenile diabetes? To fill children and their parents with false hope to promote political causes or to try to obtain more funding is sick and wrong.

What's best is the group's web site claims to be "dedicated to ....educating our state's residents about the stem cell research process and its potential for life-saving cures" when their own spokespeople can't accurately articulate about Michigan's laws and have been filled with a delusional hope of immediate cures if researchers in Michigan could just be allowed to kill human embryos in Michigan.

Also note how their web site attacks Michigan's ban on human cloning and how that compares to the side bar on the same page. Their facts and myth page and information about somatic cell nuclear transfer are also great examples of laughable word smithing. The later being self-refuting in its description of what somatic cell nuclear transfer does.

A column in the Detroit Free Press by Brian Dickerson contains more evidence of the utter ignorance of some people. Dickerson claims "more and more voters recognize adult stem-cell research as a red herring that offers far less therapeutic promise than its embryonic counterpart." Does he provide any reasoning to why adult stem cell research which has been used to treat individuals with more than 70 different disease has "far less therapeutic promise" than embryonic stem cell research, which is years, decades even, from being tested on humans? Nope.

Dickerson also mentions how the Jewish Community Council filled with "hisses and snickers of derision" when adult stem cell research was mentioned. He also mentions the sons of Andy Levin, a candidate for the Michigan Senate and a proponent of embryonic stem cell research, have Crohn's disease. What Dickerson is most likely unaware of is that Crohn's disease has been successfully treated by adult stem cells. He might also like to know that Northwestern University is recruiting patients with Crohn's disease for clinical trials with adult stem cells.

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