Australia has just voted to overturn their ban on human embryo cloning research. Which is utterly nonsensical sinc human embryo cloning research has to date, proved difficult to do, inefficient, ethically problematic, harmful to women’s health and so far has provided zero therapeutic treatment to sick people, while adult/umbilical cord blood research gets high marks on all counts.

And since Australia has access to the world wide web, one would think they would be reading articles like this:

Fool’s Gold Rush in California


Boondoggles: Californians were promised wonder cures if they passed Proposition 71 to fund stem-cell research in 2004. Turns out they have bought a $3 billion jug of snake oil.

Scores of Nobel scientists, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation activists, and the Hollywood left hailed this plan as a marvelous elixir that would eventually cure many degenerative illnesses.

With the hype over, the scientists involved in the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine now admit they may not find cures over 10 years for even one of the diseases like autism, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis that stem-cell activists had insisted a $3 billion state institute would find cures for.

“Gone are the allusions to healing such afflictions such as spinal cord injuries and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases that dominated the 2004 campaign for Proposition 71 in 2004,” the Los Angeles Times noted. Too bad.

Not only were California’s voters promised cures, they were also promised lower medical bills for their $3 billion “solution.” Unfortunately, Californians’ average medical bills are still rising, coming in 7.7% higher in 2006 over 2005, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Not that every problem is going unresolved. The medical groups who bucked hardest for the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act are making plenty of money off it, not just from grants, like the $150 million loan that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fronted for their favorite research institutions to skirt taxpayer suits, but also for the golden opportunity to buy California bonds to finance it.

The total cost of this state research institute for Californians won’t be just $3 billion, but $6 billion, over 10 years, due to interest costs from the bonds issued, according to the California state legislative analyst.

What’s ironic is that the very supporters of the Proposition 71 initiative are buying the newly issued bonds, as the CIRM Web site notes, citing a recent $14 million bond anticipation note issuance and its nine buyers.

Meanwhile, doctors in other parts of the country are reportedly following the gold rush in droves to sunny California, because they know the highest concentration of cash for stem-cell research anywhere in the U.S., including federal sources, is in California.

The only people who get nothing out of this $3 billion boondoggle are the California taxpayers who are writing the checks, and the medical patients who have been sold a bill of goods by stem-cell activists about sure-thing medical cures from public, instead of private, funding.

Here are a few facts about stem-cell research funding:

Public money is no better than private money in reaching a medical cure for AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease and lupus. The only difference is, the private sector has an obligation to use its cash efficiently, and show results — something no government institute is obliged to do.

Moral qualms aside, stem cell research is worthwhile only if it shows meaningful results.

To date, the private sector has spent only $120 million on this research. Virtually all of it has gone into adult and umbilical-cord stem-cell research. Bill Gates, for instance, has spent only $2 million on it, and all of it in China.

Yet 72 treatments have emerged from adult and umbilical stem-cell research — and none from embryonic stem-cell research — showing the market’s efficiency.

Activist complaints about the private sector’s focus on adult and umbilical-cord stem cells have driven the state to spend $3 billion on embryonic stem-cell research — something the market won’t touch, even though you can find plenty of liberal venture capitalists out there willing to pay for political campaigns with celebrity endorsers.

The only thing this amounts to is a boondoggle for voters — fool’s gold the private sector had already panned for and rejected, having found the truth out first.

Author Profile

Jennifer Lahl, CBC Founder
Jennifer Lahl, CBC Founder
Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.