Stem Cells are the most essential cells in human body. They can easily develop into other types of cells. In human embryo, these building blocks of human body become more than 200 different cell types of human body (Bonnicksen). In the body of a human adult, stem cells refill the cells when they were dead or destroyed. Stem cells can be categorized into two types:
· Embryonic Stem Cells: they are the stem cells present in the embryo and can be achieved by destroying a living embryo
· Non-Embryonic Stem Cells: they are also called Adult Stem Cells. These cells can be achieved without destroying human embryo. Some of the sources of these cells are: bone marrow, skin, body fat, brain cells etc. (Chiu and Rao)
Scientist discovered that embryonic stem cells possess the great potential of healing because they can wheedle into any number of cell types. Scientific research in this field revealed in 1998 that embryonic stem cells could be separated from a living human embryo (Zitner). Scientist from that day tried to use embryonic stem cells for the healing of different diseases but they have not yet succeeded. According to a research study held in 2002, embryonic stem cells succeeded partially in healing Parkinson disease in rats but it has some side effects (Bjorklund).
Bush Stem Cell Policy
Congress had banned any research, since 1996, in which living human embryos are destroyed or endangered to injury or death (Holland) but Clinton Administration in August 2000 had issued a new guideline for Health and Human Services, which allowed Government scientist to research on such embryonic stem cells which are extracted by the private sector scientists.
President George W. Bush, on August 9, 2001 has rejected the guidelines issued by Clinton administration and prohibited any use of embryonic stem cells except the 60 existing embryonic stem cells, which were created in the private laboratories. Bush stem cell policy provides the following four points guideline for the use of existing embryonic cells:
· The cell lines were created before the proclamation of the new stem cells policy
· The embryo was one of the excess frozen embryos created due to “vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes”
· The parents are agreed to destroy the embryo
· No financial incentive will be given to the parents for the embryo (Wade)
Bush is very firm about his stem cell policy and said, “I gave the statement I thought was right, I spent a lot of time on the subject. I laid out the policy I thought was right for America. ... I am not going to change my mind” (Wallace).
Bush stem cell policy and restriction of funding for embryonic stem cell research is bad for United States in many ways. Some of such points are as follows
Bush Stem Cell Policy Delays Advancement
Critics have said that Bush decision for restricting the funds for embryonic stem cell research is a political decision and it has nothing to do with science. Bush’s decision to fund $1million for five studies on adult stem cell research is also argued by many scientists. They are of the opinion that extra funding for adult stem cell research and restriction on embryonic stem cell research delays the advancement in the bio-medical field.
Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, which is well known for creating embryonic stem cells for the healing of different diseases, is of the opinion that if president Bush allocated the fund for embryonic stem cell research instead of adult stem cell research, United States would be “on the verge of clinical trials”.
Bush stem cell policy declared that there were 78 lines of embryonic stem cells lines existed at the time of announcement of policy, but scientists were unable to get the existing embryonic stem cells lines. Some scientists, testified before congress, clarified that they were unable to get two embryonic stem cells lines for research (NewsMax)
Dr. Lanza blamed that there is neither embryonic stem cells lines nor any money to get it. He said that embryonic stem cell is such a revolutionary discovery that its research would make revolutionary changes in medical sciences and many incurable diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, Parkinson can be cured but the restriction of funding on this research has delayed this advancement in bio-medical field.
American Society for Cell Biology, in Bethesda, Md., has also blamed Bush for his Stem cell policy and said that it’s his policy that delays the process of advancement in bio-medical field. Society spokesman, Kevin Wilson, said that Bush not only restricted the amount for embryonic stem cell research but he and his administration also created an environment that considers scientists, working on embryonic stem cell, as evil and immoral. He also said that scientist are not feeling comfortable to disclose that they are working on embryonic stem cells and thus nobody applied for grant for this research.
A researcher on embryonic stem cells, Curt Civin of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said that it is hard for embryonic stem cell researchers to get initial data to prove that their project is feasible and without good feasibility there is no point for applying and getting funds from National Institute of Health (NIH) for this research.
Most of the renowned scientists of this field, thus, consider that Bush policy is a hindrance in the advancement of bio-medical field. They were also of the opinion that Bush administration gave wrong statistics about existing embryonic stem cells lines. Bush stem cell policy said there were 60 embryonic stem cells lines but most of the scientists only aware of dozen or so such lines (Mohammed). According to Michael Manganiello, president of, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) there are only 17 embryonic stem cells lines available instead of 60 and only one line owner share his line with other labs for researchers (U.S. Newswire).
Most of the researchers and other people in the field of embryonic stem cell research believed that the existing embryonic stem cells lines were quite inadequate to get some drastic and revolutionary results in bio-medical. It is also not possible under current stem cell policy to diagnose the defects and diseases in embryonic stem cell (Faden and Gearhart). Bush administration has allocated only $25 million share in 2003 for embryonic stem cell research from the $18.3 billion budget of National Institute of Health whereas it allocated $190.7 million for research on adult stem cell which have lot less potential than embryonic stem cell. This approach of Bush administration has retarding effect on embryonic stem cell research and delays the advancement in bio-medical field for an indefinite period.
Bush Stem Cell Policy Puts United States Behind
Embryonic stem cells have the great potential for healing the patients suffering with diseases like Parkinson, diabetes, heart diseases etc. but Bush stem cell policy has restricted the funding for embryonic cell research. This hindsight of President Bush and his administration has created havoc in the field of Bio-medical research. John Kerry with other 58 Senators including fourteen Republican senators like Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey and John McCain has written a letter to president Bush and appealed him to lift the restrictions from embryonic stem cells research (Kerry-Edwards). Pressure on Bush administration from scientists, patient’s advocates and politicians has mounted to lift the restriction on embryonic stem cell research (Weiss).
Politicians and people related to bio-medical field argued that without proper funding for embryonic stem cell research, United States is losing its Supremacy and leadership in the bio-medical field. They have said that other countries like Britain and South Korea give free hand to their researchers for embryonic stem cell research. In August 2004 Britain gave the first license for generating human embryo from cloning to get embryonic stem cells.
South Korea has announced that its scientists have successfully created embryonic stem cells from a cloned embryo (Magnus and Caplan). The main purpose of South Korean researchers is to use embryonic stem cell research to find cures of incurable diseases.
Other countries also investing huge amounts in this research, which means that United States would remain the only advance country, which restricted this research and thus put hindrance in its bio-medical advancement.
Bush stem cell policy would affect patients all over the world in general and United States in particular. Although all advance countries investing in the research of embryonic stem cells but they neither have as sophisticated technology as United States nor they have such research facilities and researchers. It would also affect United States in monetary terms when the patients of United States have to go overseas for cure. Thus Bush restriction of funding for embryonic cell research affected the patients of whole world.
Bush Stem Cell Policy Causes Brain Drain
As already discussed Bush restricted funding for embryonic stem cell research has affected this research badly. Scientists and researchers neither get embryonic stem cells lines nor funds to complete the existing projects, thus this has created a brain drain. Many researchers of embryonic stem cells move to other countries, which have invested extensively on the research of embryonic stem cell to find the cures of incurable diseases.
Bush administration had created an environment, which considers all such scientists and researchers inhuman, immoral and evil who are working on embryonic stem cells. Researchers realized they neither get enough facilities for research nor favorable and suitable environment, thus they started to migrate to such countries which have clear policy for embryonic stem cell research and which are investing on embryonic stem cell research very generously.
Thus Bush stem cell policy not only delays the advancement of United States in bio-medical field but also causes the brain drain of United States leading researchers of Biotechnology.
From all the above-mentioned discussion it can easily be concluded that Bush stem cell policy is bad for United States. Restriction of funds under this policy delays United States advancement in bio-medical field, puts United States behind other advance countries and causes Brain Drain of leading United States researchers who were working on embryonic stem cell.
It has been hoped that United States under new term of George W. Bush would witness new frontiers, new theories, new alignments and new priorities. Inner circle of Bush administration hinted that Bush is working on a compromise (Weiss) and it might be possible that Bush administration would overrule its existing embryonic stem cell policy and agree to issue new guidelines for the betterment of medical and scientific research.
Bjorklund, Lars M. "Embryonic stem cells develop into functional dopaminergic neurons after transplantation in a Parkinson rat model," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2002, February 19. Vol. 99, Issue 4, p. 2344-2349
Bonnicksen, Andrea L. Crafting a Cloning Policy: From Dolly to Stem Cells. Georgetown University Press. 2002, July 15.