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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 08:11, July 26, 2006
Why stem cell research suffers set back in the U.S.?
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Stem cell research in the U.S. suffered a serious blow. On July 19th, U.S. President George W. Bush vetoed a stem cell research bill, which had been approved by U.S. Senate on July 18th. It is the first time that President Bush has exercised his right of veto in the five years since he has taken office.

This stem cell research bill is called "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act" in full. The Act states that research funding of the U.S. Federal Government can be used for research on embryonic stem cells. According to the U.S. law, any bill vetoed by the President should be sent back to the House of Representatives and the Senate for a second-time discussion and when the bill is approved by at least two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the President's veto is overruled and the bill is passed. However, The Senate cast 63 yes votes and 37 no votes on the bill on July 18th, 4 short of two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. The House of Representatives passed the bill by 238 to 194 last year, far short of a veto-proof two-thirds margin. In light of this situation, analysts of U.S. politics consider it quite impossible for the Congress to overrule the president's veto, which means the stem cell research bill is now redundant.

Embryonic stem cell research has always aroused controversy in the U.S. A poll shows that about 2/3 of Americans support stem cell research. Some supporters say that research can help to ultimately treat many diseases that are difficult to cure, such as diabetes, spine injury, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and many others. They believe that the research, which can help to rescue many lives, is a philanthropic cause and a reflection of scientific progress. Many celebrities of the Republic party such as former first lady Nancy Reagan and Governor of the State of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently called on the Bush Administration to ease restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in order to promote application of embryonic stem cell for medical treatment. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest organization of scientists in the U.S. issued an open letter on behalf of the scientific community on July 18th, asking Bush to alter his mind and approve the act. Opponents of the research, epitomized by President Bush, argued that it is "tantamount to murder" to destroy embryo as a consequence of extracting stem cells from the embryo. These are mainly extremely conservative Republicans and religious people.

Some analysts think that Bush's decision is very political. The reason why he turned a blind eye on the mainstream public opinion and vetoed the bill is that he wants Republican Conservatives and the religious community to know he takes sides with them. In the opinion of the Republic Party, to be successful in winning the mid-term election due in November this year relies on the support from the Republican Conservatives and religious community. As well as this, Bush's veto signifies a serious setback for the stem cell research in the U.S. Nowadays, many countries in the world regard stem cell research as a significant matter which can lead to a breakthrough in the field of biomedicine and invest a great deal of money and brainpower in this project. Due to a lack of funding, stem cell research in the U.S., however, is in great trouble. A lot of universities and research institutions have to spend private funding on the research. For instance, Johns Hopkins University has used most of the US$ 100 million donated by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an alumnus of the university, to conduct research on stem cell. The universities that do not have enough money have no choice but to shut down their stem cell laboratories.

By People's Daily Online


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