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Genetic Crossroads
January 26th, 2007

"A Penny on the Dollar," by Chris Thompson, East Bay Express (January 24)
"The more details emerge about Proposition 71, California's $3 billion stem-cell research project, the more it all looks like a big lie that will cost us billions of dollars more than we were told."

"Payment for stem cell eggs debated," by Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press (January 20)
"In fact, the compensation question has split American feminists and advocates for reproductive health and rights, said Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society. One side says offering money beyond reimbursement risks exploiting disadvantaged women by offering undue inducement to participate, while the other side calls that stance paternalistic, she said."

"Democrats seeking to drive stem cell wedge in Minn., N.H.," by Aaron Blake, The Hill (January 18)
"With the same bill having already passed the House in the 110th Congress, embryonic stem cell advocates are hoping for more converts, and many see the heaviest pressure likely to land squarely on the shoulders of two swing-state senators up in 2008 - Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and John Sununu (R-N.H.)."

"President Calls for Genetic Privacy Bill," by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times (January 18)
"President Bush…urged Congress to pass long-stalled legislation to safeguard genetic privacy, a measure experts say would encourage millions of Americans to undergo testing that could lead to prevention and treatment of cancer and other diseases."

"'Embryo bank': new hope or too far?" by Amanda Paulson, Christian Science Monitor (January 18)
"…the ethical debate around selling such embryos has called attention to the delicate balance between harnessing reproductive technology to help people achieve cherished dreams of bearing children and the danger of selective genetics in the hopes of creating "designer babies." It's also, say some critics, one more example of why more oversight is needed in a field that is advancing rapidly but has had almost no regulation. The embryo bank "sort of literalizes the fact that the United States is a Wild West when it comes to reproductive technologies," says Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society…"

By CGS staffers Osagie Obasogie and Parita Shah: "Wedge issue is back on the table," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (January 17)
What should be taken away from the midterm debate and California's experience is that this issue is not just about party politics. Rather, it is about encouraging important research to happen under a set of laws and policies that are fiscally and ethically responsible, balance priorities, and hold the industries and individuals that hope to profit accountable. Partisan politics has led traditional Democratic champions of government oversight for the common good to forget that Big Biotech -- not unlike its older siblings Big Pharma and Big Oil -- is an emerging multibillion-dollar industry that needs regulation to prevent abuses and promote the public interest. Otherwise, in 25 years or so, today's shocking $3-a-gallon gas may be a distant footnote to what your doctor's bill might look like."

"First U.S. Uterus Transplant Planned," by Rob Stein, Washington Post (January 15)
"First came kidney, liver and heart transplants. Then a few doctors started transplanting hands. French surgeons even did a face. Now, doctors are planning the first womb transplant in the United States. A team based in Manhattan has begun screening women left barren by cancer, injuries or other problems who want a chance to bear their own children."

"UK Stem Cell Vote: It's decision time for 'hybrid' human-animal embryos," by Marisa Taylor, Red Herring (January 5)
"The United Kingdom's regulatory body for stem cell and fertility research will vote Wednesday to determine whether a team of British scientists should be allowed to use animal eggs in human embryonic stem cell research. And like a science fiction movie gone awry, the public frenzy has reached fever pitch over the research that critics say crosses the delicate human-animal divide."

By CGS Executive Director Richard Hayes: "A Majoritarian Proposal for Governing Human Biotechnology," Bioethics Forum (January 3)
"The stem cell wars of the past five years have been a divisive and unpleasant affair. At the root of this sorry situation lies the fact that the most politically influential constituencies addressing these issues occupy opposite ends of an ideological spectrum and have generally been unmotivated to seek workable compromises. On the one end are religious conservatives opposed as a matter of faith and principle to any procedures that destroy human embryos. On the other end are many scientists and patient groups, and the biotechnology industry, opposed to constraints on what they believe to be fundamental rights to research, treatments, and profits."

"Many Clinics Use Genetic Diagnosis to Choose Sex," Lonny Shavelson, NPR (December 20)
"Some doctors analyze an embryo's DNA so parents can choose to have a male or female placed in the womb. Last year, a survey found that 1 of every 11 Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis treatment was for sex-selection alone. The study by Johns Hopkins University also found that 42 percent of clinics offering PGD offer it for sex selection."

"Rich Donors Help Calif. Fund Stem Cell Research," by Sonya Geis, Washington Post (December 19)
"Two years after California voters passed a landmark $3 billion bond measure for stem cell research, not a single bond has been sold and not a penny of bond money has been spent. The fund is caught up in court challenges. But remarkably, the private sector has stepped in to fill the gap with almost unprecedented contributions to state government."


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