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T O P I C R E V I E W
Posted - 06/11/2007 : 12:25:50 I guess my annoyance was in finding the article “Missouri’s Stem Cell Mistake” not in the editorial or opinion section of Yahoo’s featured science articles, but in the general science section. To be fair, the article was in the opinion section of the Christian Science Monitor, a paper that I hold in high regard. Reading the article by Dr. David Prentice, senior fellow for Life Sciences at the Family Research Council, an agenda driven advocacy group, the shocking revelation that made the Missouri Stem Cell bill such a mistake was revealed to the reader in paragraph five under “hidden provision.” And here is the nefarious disclosure, the plot that Mr. Prentice has uncovered:
“A couple pages later, buried in the proverbial fine print, the amendment pledges protection for somatic cell nuclear transfer."
Mr. Prentice goes on to say:
“This scientifically sexy phrase is little more than intentional misdirection….Quite simply, nuclear transfer entails fusing a woman's egg with the DNA of another cell, creating a living human embryo…Thus, biotech special interests surreptitiously achieved constitutional protection of human cloning under the guise of a ban.”
Special interests, intentional misdirection, protection of human cloning? It is always a mystery how the tortured logic of rhetoric turns the flaws of the piece being written into the attributes of the issue that the piece is admonishing. Special interests—let’s see, could he be talking about the Family Research Council? Intentional misdirection, could Mr. David be referring to his description of an “unfertilized” egg, growing in a Petri dish for five or six days into a Blastocyst, as a “living human embryo?” Or could it be his statement that deriving a few stem cells in vitro from an unfertilized cell mass, the equivalent of a minute piece of skin a person losses while scraping himself, is akin to “protection of human cloning?”
The objective scientific reality is this: somatic cell nuclear transfer is a method by which stem cells, to be used for treating terrible illnesses such as spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson’s, coronary disease, and many other chronic conditions, can be made not to be rejected by the patient’s immune system. For example, the overwhelming cause of death for patients undergoing current “adult” stem cell treatment in the form of bone marrow transplant is graft and host disease, or strong immune rejection. Another piece of factual reality: there is as much chance of a Blastocyst in vitro becoming a human being as there is a patch of skin cells. And finally, hundreds of fertilized eggs from in vitro clinics are disposed of every year, and there seems to be no problem with that—why not use unfertilized eggs to relieve human suffering?
If agenda driven advocacy groups have a political opinion they should clearly state it. The deception quality of Mr. David’s piece is highlighted by its many half-truths and intentional incompleteness.