Stem cell research FTW!

By Phil Plait | March 6, 2009 3:14 pm

There’s been a lot of bad news on the science front lately, but we finally have some good stuff: it looks like that on Monday, President Obama will sign an Executive Order overturning the ban on federal funding of stem cell research!

Nice.

In one of his first moves in office 8 years ago, Bush made it illegal to spend federal money on stem cell research, and then proceeded to spin — some might say lie — about it over the rest of his Administration, vetoing attempts to overturn the ban not once but twice. Chris Mooney has had plenty to say about that.

But those days, it seems, are over. With the EO, Obama will make it possible for medical researchers to have access to far more lines of stem cells, allowing them the freedom to see just how valuable these cells can be. Stem cell research is very promising in opening up our understanding of — and finding potential cures for — such diseases as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, diabetes, and even cancer. We’re a long way from there, of course, but now researchers will get their chance to find these and other medical breakthroughs.

You can read about the stem cell controversy if you’d like — I’m sure it will come up on the talking head shows, and I’m sure many of them will be spinning like pulsars trying to make this seem bad. But while I suspect a lot of the heads will talk about the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research, they won’t mention that these embryos — really just a tiny blob of cells numbering less than 150 in total — would have been destroyed anyway, since they were created for in vitro fertilization but wound up not being needed. Yet they never seem to protest the fertilization technique itself. It’s baffling. I’ll be very curious to see what will be said about all this on the blogs and in the news.

Still, this is a victory for science, and one that makes me hopeful for this new Administration’s view toward science. We have a long, long way to go to fix the wrongs over the past decade, but this is an excellent step in the right direction.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff, Politics, Science

Comments (84)

  1. Davidlpf

    You know the free market is the best place for science. If there was money in stem cell research companies would fund it and goverment would not have to get involved in the funding.

    Man getting into their heads is scary.

  2. David Ross

    Speaking of spinning and lying, Bush funded lots of federal money on stem cell research. What he objected to was the use of human embryoes to do it.

  3. A note: I miswrote the first line of this, saying it was a ban on research, but it is/was actually a ban on funding. I’ve corrected it. I’m not sure why I made that mistake; I knew it was a funding ban! Anyway, all better now.

  4. What a relief. This has just about the best potential imaginable for medicine at this stage of the game, and watching it get continually set back as it has been is sickening.

    What fascinates me is the balancing game opponents/proponents will play with this. It’s similar to a lot of other “moral” issues that conservatives consistently feel willing to flip-flop on depending on how it affects them. I know people who are very conservative, pro-life, and by all means would and should be anti-stem cell research, but because of their issues with diabetes, they support it. And I see this all over the place. A lot of people seem to have a ton of trouble stepping outside themselves to see how they would feel about something if it affected them directly. We saw it with the voting lines on Prop 8 (whether or not they even KNOW a gay person had a massive effect), we’ve seen it on abortion (the people who protest, then show up in the clinic because THEIR case is special), and we see it here.

    Hopefully with the research opened back up we’ll see enough advances and improvements in medicine from this research that it will begin to touch on everyone’s ailments, and people’s objections will start quickly falling by the wayside as everyone will start to be the person exception.

  5. Utakata

    Davidlpf Says:

    “You know the free market is the best place for science. If there was money in stem cell research companies would fund it and goverment would not have to get involved in the funding.

    Man getting into their heads is scary.”

    The free market is the best place for woo-woo too. But I digress…I’m getting off topic. <3

    A good move by Obama.

  6. Of course, there has already been much complaining about Obama’s “usurping” the separation of powers in the federal government by allowing such funding, completely ignoring the fact that it was a simple Executive Order by Bush which created the ban in the first place.

  7. BJN

    Faster Than Wetweaselsex?

    I had to look up net slang to pick up “for the win”. I’ll take stem cells for 500, Alex.

  8. Don Glenn

    I firmly believe that stem-cell research should be legal for all Liberal fetuses. I would add that that same group is entitled to legal abortion – anytime – anyplace, for any reason.

  9. TheBlackCat

    A note: I miswrote the first line of this, saying it was a ban on research, but it is/was actually a ban on funding. I’ve corrected it. I’m not sure why I made that mistake; I knew it was a funding ban! Anyway, all better now.

    It’s basically the same thing. For biomedical research the private sector very rarely funds research that is not going to have immediate payoffs. They expect a return on their investment, and soon. That means they generally do not fund pure research, which is the stage that most stem cell research is at right now.

    Further, they make it considerably harder to publish your research, since they want to keep a lid on any potentially patentable discoveries and they don’t want your research to help their competitors. For stem cell research we are not really at the stage where research can exist in small, corporate groups that do everything in secret, everything needs to be done in the open.

    There are private funding groups for pure research, but they are extremely rare and don’t have much money compared to the government.

    There is also the problem that federal funding cannot be used for stem cell research in any way. That means none of the equipment and supplies you buy, none of the graduate students and post docs you hire, perhaps not even the room you rent from the university (depending on the university) can be used for federally funded research and stem cell research. This hassle alone is a major turn-off even for people who might be able to get the funding.

    So the claim that the private sector will handle is a convenient notion for stem cell opponents and libertarian, but it is not how biomedical research works in the real world.

  10. David Ross, srsly? Is that where you want this go? That’s spin, plain and simple. It’s clear from the context that the controversy was over human embryonic stem cells.

    Puhleeze.

  11. Brando

    And in other Bush anti-science related news, that Bush appointed shill at NASA, Courtney Stadd, has been indicted for ethics violations.

  12. Daffy

    Don Glenn: “I firmly believe that stem-cell research should be legal for all Liberal fetuses. I would add that that same group is entitled to legal abortion – anytime – anyplace, for any reason.”

    This is the kind of thing that scares me about conservatives. Many of them would be delighted to silence their opposition in any way they could.

    These are the most hate filled people I have ever run across…including my own brother.

  13. Reverend J

    I’ll be busting out my Cuban cigars when it happens!

  14. QUASAR
  15. Osiris Therapeutics is only a few months away from completing phase II testing on their stem cell based medications. They get their stem cells from adult bone marrow and their medications have proven to be not only safe, but apparently very effective for treating at least one disease that is usually fatal in a matter of months. Osiris will not be pursuing federal funds or any research regarding other potential sources of stem cells because they are already in a position to help huge numbers of patients and make billions in the process with what the processes that they have already patented assuming, of course, that their medications continue to perform as well as they have in early testing.

  16. Sorry. Make that phase III testing. Approval for their medication could come as early as 4th Quarter of 2009.

  17. Wow, now maybe scientists can answer all those “prayers” for the cure to MS and other debilitating diseases. (/snark)

  18. Great,

    Now if Obama can stop pushing junk science with corn-based ethanol and organic farming, we might be able to feed the people we end up saving.

  19. Ibeechu

    iPS cells are the future anyway, I firmly think. Any sort of questions of morality disappear with them, whether or not you think destroying a blastocyst is wrong, and they’re easier to produce.

  20. scienceNeedAConscience

    This will be the most egregious use of tax revenue in history.

  21. Robbie

    Things this is not a victory for: science, the American people. Why do you keep insisting that politically pushed science is a good thing?

  22. Yes! I’m glad we don’t have to decide whether it’s ethical or not to force taxpayers to fund research on what they consider to be life! That’s definitely a good thing. Now where’s Peter Singer when you need him?

  23. Oh, and how about some federal funding for (say) Nuclear Power?

  24. Reverend J

    Or Abstinence only teaching.

  25. baryogenesis

    When people here comment on “science needing a conscience” (with random caps), one wonders if that’s the same sort of “conscience” that is in the process of excommunicating those naughty medical personnel who tried to save a pregnant 9 yr old?

    And Robbie, learn to push your words around so that they make sense.

  26. Elmar_M

    I am very pleased by Obamas decision here.
    We are already making great progress with stem cell research and it will only get better. So far countries like China have been leading over the US in this. Some people from the US were actually going to China (!) to get treatment, e.g. for blindness.
    I also hope that this will do away with the organized missinformation of the public and the despicable bad mouthing campaigns that genetic research has seen through certain mass meadia. “Gattaca” and “Eleventh Hour” are only two examples, of many that come to my mind here.
    It is very clear that there are certain political ideologies and establishments that want to prevent the potentially biggest advances in medicine that mankind has ever seen.

  27. ABC123

    We are finally starting to come out of an 8 year Dark Age started by the Bush Administration.
    I only hope we can survive the current economic crisis to be able to provide federal funds
    for stem cell research.

  28. David

    To: Shane P. Brady
    Re: March 6th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I agree with your identification of corn-based ethanol as a junk science solution because it takes more energy to create than it is worth and because I’d much rather people consume that corn themselves, but how is organic farming junk science?

    Considering the fact that we won’t have oil with which to make artificial nitrogen soon, and the way pesticides have been killing bees in great numbers (bees being necessary to pollinate fruits and many veggies) it seems to me organic farming (crop rotation, fields with multiple crops and natural pesticides i.e. spiders and suchlike) is the way to go.

  29. @scienceNeedAConscience,

    This will be the most egregious use of tax revenue in history.

    More than the bailout?

    @MarkP,

    Yes! I’m glad we don’t have to decide whether it’s ethical or not to force taxpayers to fund research on what they consider to be life! That’s definitely a good thing. Now where’s Peter Singer when you need him?

    What kind of medical research does not involve research on life?

  30. Tyler Durden

    “This will be the most egregious use of tax revenue in history.”

    Clearly you do not follow politics if you think that * this * is the most egregious use of tax revenue in *history* – it isn’t even in the running for the most egregious in the last year.

    I mean, seriously – using embryos that would otherwise be thrown away, to help cure diseases in actual people (you know, the kind that aren’t microscopic dots on a glass slide somewhere)? That’s hardly a $300 million bridge to nowhere in the making.

    All anti-stem cell fanatics are hypocrites. If they really wanted to save the lives of the embryos, they’d be demanding that every single embryo ever harvested from any woman in a virtility clinic, anywhere, be implanted in someone – by force, if necessary.

    Oh, won’t somebody please think of the CHILDREN!?!?

  31. Tyler Durden,

    That’s unfair.

    You are using logic.

    Their approach to logic is abstinence only.

  32. TheBlackCat

    iPS cells are the future anyway, I firmly think. Any sort of questions of morality disappear with them, whether or not you think destroying a blastocyst is wrong, and they’re easier to produce.

    Of course, all of the knowledge that was required for making iPS cells came embryonic stem cell research. And iPS cells are still not at the point where they can be used therapeutically (they use potentially dangerous viruses), getting them to that point will require far more research on embryonic stem cells. It is very likely that the government ban on embryonic stem cell research delayed the discovery of the technique to make iPS cells, and continues to delay the development of practical applications.

  33. Troy

    I wonder if Bush would use a treatment either that required stem cells from an embreyo or used the technology if he would either die or be severely disabled? My guess is YES he would. Regarding the concern that the free market would be able to provide funding. I don’t think so, to some degree the pure sciences (from which eventually flow applied science) require public funding. Good riddance to you, Mr. Bush.

  34. tacitus

    IVF was roundly condemned by many on the religious right when it was first introduced. Now that many otherwise childless couples have been able to have families using this technique, only the more extreme hardline anti-abortionists dare to attack the procedure.

    The same will happen for ESCR. Sure if ESCR becomes unnecessary, then the controversy will die, but it will also die if and when the first breakthrough life-saving cure is found through the process.

    The religious right may claim that they respect the life of an embryo as much as they do a living, breathing human being but, in reality…. not so much. (Just try any of them on the old baby in a burning IVF lab hypothetical to confirm it.)

  35. Implore

    NICE! So are we going to be able to save Superman now? Oh wait… stupid Bush.

  36. David:

    If you want to cut the food supply by 33% for no nutritional gain, then go organic. We produce more food per acre than at any time in human history with modern agriculture. Is it perfect? No, but organic farming methods will not feed the world. I’d rather spend time focusing on improving pesticides, fertilizers, and plant genetics. Organic farming is junk science because it’s not really sustainable or healthier.

  37. Grand Lunar

    “…. and I’m sure many of them will be spinning like pulsars trying to make this seem bad.”

    I can name one big group; the Catholic Church.
    Much spin has been given that I’ve seen at times in a paper. And my family falls for it.

    They refuse to see the issue that the embryos would be disposed of anyway.

    Those that spin the ‘bad news’ of stem cells research seem unmoved by what could be achieved with this science.

  38. Anticult

    When people here comment on “science needing a conscience” (with random caps), one wonders if that’s the same sort of “conscience” that is in the process of excommunicating those naughty medical personnel who tried to save a pregnant 9 yr old?

    If one is prone to non sequiturs I imagine it is.

    Seriously, you call this logic? Someone talks about science having a conscience, and you equate them to some horrible story completely unrelated to the subject at hand Not that I agree with the post you were responding to, but your response was nothing more than propagandathink.

  39. LukeL

    The problem I have is the idea of creating life to simply destroy it. Just today an article was published where a doctor suggested mandatory screening for genetic disorders and mandatory abortions to help rid the world of certain diseases. This is the kind of thing that was discussed in the 1930s, the only difference is today we can actually go forward with those ideas.

    Many articles have said cord blood, marrow cells, and skin cells can be used and are better than embryonic cells. Also with embryonic cells you must introduce a virus to the cell, and some tests animals have come down with cancer.

    Being a handicapped person who has survived cancer and dealt with multiple surgeries and many benign bone tumors I can say that I am against the notion of creating life just to study it and destroy it, as it will only lead to more and more controversial things. We can find much better sources of stem cells then the IVF lab.

  40. biogeek

    Anticult,

    it’s not a non-sequitur, it’s a reminder that one person’s ‘conscience’ often is another’s barbarity when it comes to bioethics.

    For that matter, hampering basic and medical science because of an insentient cell ball happens to be the opposite of what I consider morally good. The grant-approval process ought to be freed of sectarian religious beliefs, and conducted according to secular ethical guidelines of scientific integrity, safety and informed consent.

  41. biogeek

    As to iPS cell production, it reverts most of the cell’s biochemistry to the pluripotent state but apparently not all:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090127090732.htm
    “In another important finding, Clark’s team discovered that the germ line cells generated from human iPS cells were not the same as the germ line cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. Certain vital regulatory processes were not performed correctly in the human iPS derived germ cells, said Clark, an assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology.“

    Clearly, more research on embryonic stem cells is needed for purposes of comparison and validation, so as to learn how well reprogrammed the iPS cells really are.

  42. TheBlackCat

    @ LukeL: So are you saying that IVF is wrong? And are you against screening of fetuses for lethals genetic disorders that will, without question, cause a slow, painful death within the first few years of life?

    And yes, they can be used in some cases, but they are no where near as good or as universal as embryonic stem cells.

  43. allimo

    Wow. Are there seriously this many people posting on here trying to make the case that finding cures for diseases is a bad thing? How should we NOT use any method available to us to try to cure people cursed with these horrific, life-destroying, incurable, degenerative, terminal, completely unpreventable and unpredictable neurological diseases?

    My mother died in October after suffering for twelve years from early-onset Parkinson’s disease with dementia. She was 53 years old. If you don’t have a family member suffering from one of these diseases, keep your damn mouth shut about whether or not it’s “worth it”.

    Watch your master’s-degree-educated mother devolve into a word-salad-spewing miserable shell who doesn’t even recognize you, and then tell me stem cell research to cure her disease is unethical. Go on, I dare you.

    Good for President Obama for finally bringing hope to the millions of families across the country that have spent eight years listening to Bush tell them curing their disease would be “unethical”.

  44. Jack Simmons

    Here’s an interesting development announced in just the last few days:

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/03/06/new_technique_boosts_stem_cell_safety/

    Cambridge scientists yesterday reported a new technique that eliminates a major safety risk of human stem cells created from skin cells, creating a more powerful tool for medical research.

    Ever since the breakthrough discovery in 2006 that it was possible to spin back the clock, turning adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells, researchers have looked for ways to get rid of the viruses and genes that trigger the transformation, but also carry the risk of cancer. In the new work, researchers used the technique to turn the skin cells of five Parkinson’s disease patients into stem cells, but then removed the potentially harmful genes.

    Then, they used the stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, to make the neurons that are lost in Parkinson’s disease. Using the cells as therapy is still years away, but for now scientists can use them to study the disease in a dish, comparing them to neurons from healthy patients.

    “The real, key promise of the technology will be to get to the biology of human disease,” said Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research in Cambridge and lead author of the paper published in the journal Cell.

    The work appears on the heels of another report describing a different method also used to create a safer, virus- and gene-free version of such stem cells.

    “The problem is if you leave the factors behind . . . they could misbehave and could create cancer,” said Andras Nagy, senior scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, who led the other work creating safer iPS cells published in Nature this week.

    The technical advances are being unveiled at a timely moment, as researchers are waiting for President Obama to fulfill his promise to reverse restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

    “We scientists are eager to see an executive order expanding federal funding for stem cells, since it would be a shame if the stimulus money . . . couldn’t be exploited for all of the exciting new opportunities in stem cell research,” Dr. George Q. Daley, a prinicipal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, wrote in an e-mail.

    Opponents have argued that iPS cells should replace research on controversial embryonic stem cells, but the new research actually found hints that the predominant way of making iPS cells today may not yield cells that are truly equivalent to the gold standard embryonic stem cells.

    Jaenisch and colleagues compared the iPS cells they made using the new technique that removes the genes, with normal iPS cells in which they are still present in the cell. They also compared those cells with human embryonic stem cells. The results, he said, were surprising.

    The pattern of gene activity of the iPS cells created with the new technique was closest to that of the human embryonic stem cells. Gene activity was different in iPS cells that still harbored the genes.

    Konrad Hochedlinger, a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute not involved with the new study, said the finding could help explain differences he has seen in his own research when using mouse embryonic stem cells and iPS cells to create heart muscle cells.

    “What we still don’t really know is whether iPS cells . . . are fully equivalent” to embryonic stem cells, Hochedlinger said. “We still need to compare them side by side, and figure out which cells are better and what are the differences.”

    Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com.

    It would appear the differences between iPS cells and embryonic cells are becoming smaller with the passage of time.

    Have we reached a point where the use in clinical applications are indistinguishable?

    Would iPS cells derived from one’s own body be superior in treating disease because there would be lower chances of immune system responses?

  45. Selfishness and greed have caused the current economic crisis, the lust for even more money has finally caught up. Even with working on Sundays.

    It’s just as well God doesn’t exist eh? As the Almighty doesn’t exist he doesn’t care His people hate Him, ignore the Sabath day and have no respect for the sanctity of human life.

    I know you all sincerely believe you are doing the right thing, but if I removed the power of speech from you and then proceded to saw off your leg I would not hear you scream. I might be doing it for the good of medical research but I don’t think you would care too much about that.

    There are none so blind as those who WILL not see.

  46. Elmar_M

    Oi dude, turn off religion, turn on logical and rational thinking, only for a second, please!

  47. Pieter Kok

    Their approach to logic is abstinence only.” Rogue Medic FTW!

  48. There are none so blind as those who WILL not see.

    Stems cells might fix that up for you.

    As the Almighty doesn’t exist he doesn’t care His people hate Him

    Put it this way. I hate him at least as much as I do Zeus and Odin and… the tooth fairy. And what exactly do you mean by “His people”? That’s just creepy.

  49. Daniel J. Andrews

    “would have been destroyed anyway, since they were created for in vitro fertilization but wound up not being needed. Yet they never seem to protest the fertilization technique itself. It’s baffling”

    Many people do question the ethics of in vitro fertilization so I don’t see it as baffling at all. Least some of them are consistent, and the others probably would protest if they knew what was involved for in vitro fertilization. Dare I say it…but did I catch you cherry-picking??? :-) )

    btw, I’m ok with stem cell research but I propose we only use stem cells derived from stupid people. ;)

  50. /snark on

    Re: abstinence only and the idea of private funding of formerly government-funded suff

    I have an idea: have churches fund abstinence-only education out of those taxes they’re not having to pay on their real estate and other holdings. Seems to me that buying one less Cadillac Escalade for the TV preacher would fund a whole lot of such teachings. And, on top of that, it’ll be aimed right at conservatives who think such teachings actually work. Up until the time their kids get pregnant, that is… so yeah… I’m happy to see “private” funding for abstinence-only education, provided that it’s aimed back at the conservatives who want to foist it off on the rest of us.

    /snark off

  51. it seems to me organic farming …is the way to go

    Who gets to decide which two billion people starve when the food supply plummets? Organic farming may not be junk science (although claims that it is healthier for consumers appear to not only be false, but backward), but it is decidedly less efficient.

  52. More than the bailout?

    Not to mention Korea, Vietnam, Iraq…how many hundreds of thousands of living, breathing, sentient people died by taxpayer-funded bullets and bombs for no good reason? How many children have been burned, dismembered, and killed by those tax dollars?

  53. @Sci-Fi Si: Analogy fail. Wow.

  54. Sili

    For those who need someone to hate on re IVF, I’ll gladly volunteer.

    I think it’s a waste of public funds to create even more humans, when we should be looking at getting people to stop bloody breeding so bloody much.

    Of course, that’s purely a problem for our socialised healthcare over here in commie-Europe. At least you have to pay for your own folly in this matter.

    (And yes, this makes me one of those evil people who object to lesbians getting artificial insemination on the public purse. I just happen to object to anyone not paying for their own misguided desires to reproduce.)

  55. Elmar_M

    Well Sili
    I am totally for reducing the amount of humans, BUT PLEASE THOSE WHOSE POPULATION IS EXPLODING RIGHT NOW!
    We Europeans are dying out. 1.7 children per woman -> die out.

  56. Daffy

    Shane: “And what exactly do you mean by “His people”? That’s just creepy.”

    The ones who are going to rise up and “make the rivers run red with the blood of our enemies.” That crowd. And they are creepy.

  57. AJ

    £# Naked Bunny with a Whip Says:
    March 7th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    it seems to me organic farming …is the way to go

    Who gets to decide which two billion people starve when the food supply plummets? Organic farming may not be junk science (although claims that it is healthier for consumers appear to not only be false, but backward), but it is decidedly less efficient.”

    Um… what the hell?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming#Productivity_and_profitability
    (yes, it’s wiki, but seems well-sourced) Specifically:

    “In 2008 the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) issued a report which stated that “organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and that it is more likely to be sustainable in the long-term”.[23] The report assessed 114 projects in 24 African countries, finding that “yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used” and that soil fertility and drought resistance improved.[24]”

    Now… do *you* have any, y’know… evidence for what you were saying? If so, then we can talk.

  58. Chip

    Don Glenn wrote: “I firmly believe that stem-cell research should be legal for all Liberal fetuses. I would add that that same group is entitled to legal abortion – anytime – anyplace, for any reason.”

    Although it would be tempting to add: “…and let’s also deny any and all medical benefits of stem cell research to conservatives”, in reality Liberals, (being liberal) would of course make all such medical benefits available to all, regardless of politics.

    That’s because “the Liberals” are, you know, “meek” and even though some are atheists, they basically seem to follow some of the teachings of that Jesus fellow anyway.

  59. Winter Solstice Man

    We may have to do it one item at a time, but we will get rid of the path of destruction and stupidity led by the worst US President in history.

    This is one of those steps towards the light again.

  60. Gary Ansorge

    David:

    Organic farming is one reason people(myself included) plant back yard gardens,,,the food just tastes better unfortunately, organic farm produce also costs about 2.5 times as much as mass produced food. I asked the manager at our local Publix brand grocery why that was and he said it was because organic farms productivity/acre is only about 40% of the productive level of non-organic farms. MAkes sense to me. I don’t use pesticides on my strawberries or tomatoes and I DO loss about that much to critters but I’ll keep growing them for the convenience of walking out to my yard and plucking a juicy tomato off the vine.

    Gary 7
    PS: Since God would seem to be the top of the hierarchy, we might presume that He has no one to believe in, therefore I must attest:

    God is Atheist

  61. @AJ
    You should have read the wiki you quote more closely instead of cherry picking. There is enough criticism, or links to criticism in the the very wiki you quote from. Here’s another quote “One study from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found that, area-for-area, organic farms of potatoes, sugar beet and seed grass produce as little as half the output of conventional farming.”
    http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming

  62. Hope for the Best

    I oppose IVF, Phill. Lots of people do.

  63. LukeL

    I have a genetic disorder, Neurofibromatosis, with fibrous dysplasia and cherubism. I also had Rhabdomyosarcoma when I was younger. Oddly enough Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer formed from stem cells.

    I am against IVF and genetic testsing via amnio because of the high false positive and false negative readings. I am much more in favor of prenatal screening of parents and then they can weigh the risks and either get sterilized and adopt or go ahead and hope for the best.

    If we start deciding who can and can’t have children and which children can be born then we aren’t far from the eugenics movement of the 1930s.

  64. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    although claims that it is healthier for consumers appear to not only be false, but backward

    The main reasons not to touch organic farmed products is that they contribute so much to global warming due to the inefficient methods and, of course, the immorality in that they are unsustainable food sources for the current population.

    But IIRC there were some early reports that they were, as one could suspect, unhealthy. (Due to the increased amount of organic poisons from all possible contributions – from competing green pests, from native poisons to deal with increased stress, competition and insect damage, and from fungi attacks.) But I dunno where that research went. Perhaps it was stopped because the differences were insignificant, perhaps it never became important because there is a belief driven market for these things.

    As a skeptic I find belief driven markets annoying if not potentially harmful.

  65. Mark

    Actually one of the largest groups against the use of embryonic stem cells for research is also just as vehemently against in vitro fertilization, cherry picking babies by eye color, etc.–the Catholic Church, which has a very consistent pro-life position.

  66. @Gary Ansorge,

    A believer would just say that god believes in himself so he can’t be an atheist.

    I was watching Atheism – A Rough History of Disbelief from the BBC the other day and they had this quote from Epicurus:


    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    Poof. God disappears in a puff of 2000 years old logic.

  67. zar

    I take it that those of you who are deeply offended by the use of public funds for stem cell research are equally offended by the use of public funds for the military.

  68. zar

    Also: if an embryo is a person, then can we take it to court? Like if its jar falls of a shelf, strikes a person on the head and kills them, can we charge it for involuntary manslaughter?

  69. Sili

    Well Sili
    I am totally for reducing the amount of humans, BUT PLEASE THOSE WHOSE POPULATION IS EXPLODING RIGHT NOW!
    We Europeans are dying out. 1.7 children per woman -> die out.
    Elmar_M Says:
    March 7th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Nope, don’t get it.

    Let’s spread the wealth (SOMG socialism!) and help others to stop breeding (so much) too. And if we’re too few people to get work done in Europe, then let’s reform the xenophobic immigration laws.

  70. Colin

    So it is not OK to use a tiny cluster of cells that would never become a living person for research into disease. But it is OK to kill a living person by electric chair, gas chamber or lethal injection.

  71. Gary Ansorge

    LukeL:

    There is a very great difference between a parent making the choice to abort a fetus carrying the genes for Huntington’s Chorea and the State mandating its destruction. In the 1930s it was assumed only the State would have the wisdom to know what was right.

    Today, we know better,,,

    Shane:

    EXCELLANT!!

    Gary 7

  72. Beelzebud

    # Don Glenn Says:
    March 6th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I firmly believe that stem-cell research should be legal for all Liberal fetuses. I would add that that same group is entitled to legal abortion – anytime – anyplace, for any reason.

    Stay classy, conservatives. Stay classy.

  73. Elmar_M

    [quote]reform the xenophobic immigration laws[quote]

    Xenophobic immigration laws in Europe?
    Ahahahaha…

  74. LukeL

    If we know better, then why are doctors advocating abortion when an amnio indicates a potential birth defect? Things like this go on in Europe all the time, as the state runs the healthcare they must also ration the health care and a simple abortion is much cheaper then 50+ years of care for a person who is mentally retarded.

  75. Speaking of abortion and whether some fanatics people will even allow it under extreme circumstances. What about the example of a 9 year old girl pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. Read ‘em and weap…
    http://www.theage.com.au/world/vatican-defends-excommunication-for-raped-nineyearold-girls-abortion-20090308-8s49.html

  76. It is amazing, Phil. You almost never hear any complaints about in vitro, even though it destroys tons of embryos… but of course, that would require logic and critical thinking, not to mention going after an already established treatment. What these people do, it seems, is try to go after something before it’s mainstream. Going after something like IVF would be politically stupid, though I’d argue going after stem cell research is, too. According to this site,
    http://www.dirtygreek.org/outgoinglink.php?url=http://www.docshop.com/education/fertility/treatments/in-vitro/statistics/

    By the end of 2002, nearly 300,000 babies conceived through assisted reproductive technology had been born. Considering the fact that several eggs are fertilized for each patient, that could mean that millions of embryos have either been destroyed or just plopped into a freezer after these treatments were complete, never to be seen again. Where’s the outrage?

  77. Robert

    “Considering the fact that we won’t have oil with which to make artificial nitrogen soon, and the way pesticides have been killing bees in great numbers (bees being necessary to pollinate fruits and many veggies) it seems to me organic farming (crop rotation, fields with multiple crops and natural pesticides i.e. spiders and suchlike) is the way to go.”

    As Shane P Brady said, that’s a great idea if you want about a third of the planet to die off. Pure organic farming would only feed about 4-billion of the 6-billion+ people on the planet.

  78. Robert Carnegie

    Bush suckered you that non-embryonic stem cell research or research on existing laboratory cell populations would work as well as embryo cell research. I propose that knowledge is at about the stage now with alternative processes as it was with embryo cells a carefully chosen eight years ago, so President Bush in effect froze scientific progress for his whole presidency, although w!he did find ways to spend money.

    I don’t have scientific evidence that the new possibility of using skin cells is a new attempt to sucker the population all over again, but it’s suspiciously “onvenient” timing.

    Who developed penicillin as a useable drug? Superficial inquiry indicates that the earlier part of the job – after Fleming – was a U.S. government project, not commercial research. But I’d probably have to read a book to get it a hundred per cent right.

  79. Gary Ansorge

    Pesticides were not the cause of bee die off, it was/is a virus,caused by too MANY bees in one area(ie, population packing density escalates the transfer of contagion exponentially).

    LukeL:
    What I SAID was “,,,In the 1930s it was assumed ONLY THE STATE would have the wisdom to know what was right. Today we(individuals) know better,,,”(Than the state),,,

    A doctor RECOMMENDING an abortion is quite different from the State COERCING an abortion.

    ,,,and yes, there is always an economic incentive to PREVENT defective organic machines from being replicated.
    We are carbon based, organic machines,,,live with it.

    Organic farming in subsistence areas probably is a superior solution to an inadequate food supply but that is only because these areas are so poor they can’t possibly afford pesticides/inorganic fertilizers/heavy farm equipment. Organic farming techniques are vastly superior to cut and burn, farm for a couple of years then move on. I note China uses such organic systems as well as more energy intensive methods( and the combination feeds 1.2(or possibly 1.6) billion). (actual population numbers are often considered state sensitive secrets so,,,estimate)

    Organic farming is only about half as productive as energy intensive farming, which is why we need MORE FRAKING ENERGY. It is what enables our species survival and economic growth.

    GAry 7

  80. Gary Ansorge

    As a side note: Talking heads are forever talking about the DESTRUCTION of embryos while “conveniently” forgetting they would fraking DIE anyway. Researchers just wanted to learn something from those cells before they were thrown away.

    I wish Faux network would just go away,,,

    GAry 7

  81. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Gary, that was interesting points.

    Pesticides were not the cause of bee die off, it was/is a virus,caused by too MANY bees in one area(ie, population packing density escalates the transfer of contagion exponentially).

    The last article I read on this claimed that researchers have concluded that they can’t discern any die off from poor observational data. (Sorry, no ref.)

    But if it happened, it seems to have happened once or twice before (latest in the 70′s, I think) – if there were actual data on those events or if those were bee owners reports as well I can’t remember. So it could well be epidemic.

    Organic farming techniques are vastly superior to cut and burn,

    Point taken.

  82. Josh

    Good discussion about Stem Cells and Organic farming, gave me stuff to think about.

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