Don C. Reed, a rabid supporter of embryonic stem cell research – and, it seems, only stem cell research – has written an editorial, “Coincidence or Con-Job?” He flatly states that he believes that we are witnessing an act of “weapons of mass deception” in the timing of the release of the newest issue of Nature Biotechnology, containing Anthony Atala’s report on amniotic/placental stem cells.
Fortunately, the editorial (a classic case of projection if I ever saw one) is so far only to be found on blogs such as “Stem Cell Battles” (there’s no permanent link that I can find, but it’s labeled “#278,” and dated January 8, 2007) and email-lists, like Steven Meyer’s “Stem Cell Information” on Yahoo Groups.
But what I feel in my gut is:
Weapon of mass deception.
Just as non-existent weapons of mass destruction were used to sell America on the idea of invading Iraq, I think this sudden (and hugely publicized) “breakthrough” will turn out to be less than it appears—and it will be used to try and block embryonic stem cell research
And now, just before the debate to loosen those restrictions, suddenly a miraculous discovery makes it seem we don’t need embryonic stem cell research?
I don’t buy it.
It may be strictly a coincidence that the allegedly miraculous breakthrough is announced just hours before the vote: providing cover for legislators looking desperately for some excuse to avoid supporting research that may cost them votes from the Religious Right.
It may also be a coincidence that “the technology described in the study is owned by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center…”(emphasis added)(in original, BBN) — a religion officially opposed to embryonic stem cell research. –quoted material from Los Angeles Times, “Stem Cells in Amniotic Fluid…” by Karen Kaplan, January 8, 2007.
Dr. Atala, it should also be noted, sits on the board of Plureon Corporation, a biotech startup company connected to the experiment. I do not know the nature of their relationship, and there would be nothing wrong with a scientist profiting from his invention; still the money trail is part of the equation.
But the biggest question is simple: is the experiment important?
If an adult stem cell “breakthrough” turns out to be real—that would be not only good, but expected.
Edited 3/20/12 for formatting due to changes made at move from old site and to add categories and tags.