It's all politics

An article in today's Seattle Times adds some interesting touches to the "scandal" of egg donors in Korea (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002634970_stemcell20.html). It seems that Shatten, who says he left Hwang's group because of ethical irregularities over egg donations, has been involved in a similar situation before--in California. Also, as several newspapers have noted, the possibility that female scientist(s) in Hwang's lab may have been donors for the research that originally resulted in the production of the first embryonic stem cells from humans arose well over a year ago and was presented in an article in Nature. At the time, the statement from one woman was recinded with the explanation that her English is faulty and her statement inaccurate. So, the news is not news, after all.

As my younger daughter would say, "Whatever!"

The point is that embryonic stem cell research is becoming a hot item and "we"--whoever we are--have little control over the details of what is happening. President Bush's edict, intended to halt research that "involves the killing of embryos" may have done just the opposite by forcing researchers to look elsewhere for money. Reports I have read suggest that over 150 stem cell lines have been developed outside and in the US and these cell lines are being offered to the UK stem cell bank as well as locations here in the US.

Research is going on, and the impetus is money and power--the usual components of politics. We can still participate in forming public policy, but we'll probably have to look at ways to go about it other than introducing a spate of bills into Congress and then letting them die.

Marie Godfrey, PhD

Genetizen's blog