Thursday, June 01, 2006

Casualty in Bush's War on Science

When George Bush first tickled the scrotum of James Dobson by restricting federal funding of stem cell research, the coddling of the Christian Right was seen then as surely leading to further policy abuses by the White House in the name of morality. Despite the large likelihood that George Bush had never heard of stem cell research before that day, his fiat was expected to stunt research in the US and shift expertise elsewhere.

Expect no more. It has happened:
A lack of state support for stem cell research in the US has resulted in the country falling behind other nations in this area of science, a group of American politicians said today.

Members of a bipartisan delegation of US congressmen and women, who have met British researchers, government officials and regulatory agencies to find out more about stem cell research in the UK, said that "leadership in this field had shifted to the UK".
A bill to correct Bush's pandering and heavy-handed order has been in the works since last year, when, of all people, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he would support new legislation to expand stem cell research funding. Bush threatened to veto any such bill. Because, you know, the veto is an important tool that should only be used in the most dire of conditions, such as killing scientific research the Republican fundamentalist base finds offensive.

In what is surely one of the rarest of moments, a year ago Frist actually appeared almost prescient about conditions that have now been observed:
While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases.
Whether or not research in general has slowed is difficult to say, but it certainly did in the US as scientists flocked to the UK to continue their work.
In the 1990s the US was a major player in this field of research. The first published accounts of the production of human embryonic stem cells in 1998 came from teams based at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University.

But, as restrictions have tightened, the US has seen more scientists moving to the UK.
In five years, a single executive order by George Bush turned the United States into a brackish backwater in this important scientific endevour. Would it were that Bush and the fundamentalists worried more about the disgraceful infant mortality rate in this country than scientists working with gametes and zygotes.


Post a Comment

<< Home