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Genetic Crossroads
December 14th, 2006

"Support for stem-cell study falls, poll shows," by A.J. Hostetler, Richmond Times-Dispatch (December 14)
"A new national poll conducted in the aftermath of actor Michael J. Fox's televised appeals for stem-cell research shows that support for studying embryonic stem cells fell in the past year. The drop from 58 percent to 54 percent this year interrupts the growing support tracked by Virginia Commonwealth University's Life Sciences Survey. The percentage of those strongly or somewhat opposed rose from 32 percent in 2005 to 37 percent this year. Slightly more men than women favor the research."

"Wanting Babies Like Themselves, Some Parents Choose Genetic Defects," by Darshak M. Sanghavi, M.D., New York Times (December 5)
"Wanting to have children who follow in one's footsteps is an understandable desire. But a coming article in the journal Fertility and Sterility offers a fascinating glimpse into how far some parents may go to ensure that their children stay in their world - by intentionally choosing malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism."

By CGS Communications Director Parita Shah: "With election over, we can discuss stem-cell research logically," San Jose Mercury News (December 1)
"Stem-cell research is complex and important. Unfortunately, the campaign treatment of stem-cell research also demonstrated that such a complex issue gets simplified and distorted beyond recognition when it is discussed in a forum of polarized politics and 30-second sound bites. Voters were bombarded with political ads and stump speeches full of hyperbole about the science, uttered by candidates desperate to win votes."

"Industry ties common on hospital boards," by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press (November 29)
"A survey of hospital review boards that watchdog experiments on patients shows that one in three members takes money from companies that make drugs and medical devices that come under study. What's more, many of those with conflicts rarely or never disclose their financial ties, researchers found."

By CGS Executive Director Richard Hayes: "A truce in the stem cell wars?," San Francisco Examiner (November 24)
"The stem cell wars have been so divisive for so long because the two most active contending constituencies represent polarized ideological positions. On the one hand are religious conservatives who oppose any medical research involving the destruction of human embryos. On the other are scientists, the biotech industry and research advocates who resist even reasonable social oversight and control of powerful new biotechnologies. But polls show the great majority of Americans hold to a more nuanced ethical middle ground: They are not irrevocably opposed to embryonic stem cell research if it clearly has potential for major medical benefits, but they are wary of giving scientists and biotech entrepreneurs a blank check to develop powerful technologies with enormous social implications."

"U.N. Leader Urges Biotech Safeguards," Reuters (November 19)
"General Kofi Annan of the United Nations warned Saturday that the potential for danger from the rapidly growing biotechnology industry was increasing exponentially and urged creating global safeguards. Mr. Annan, in a speech in this Swiss university town, warned of "catastrophic" results if recent advances in biotechnology, including gene manipulation and work with viruses, fell into the wrong hands."


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