Obama's stem-cell decision restores scientific integrity
President Obama overturns the strong limitations on federally funded stem-cell research — a policy full of fresh air and science-based decision making. The president thereby boosts confidence and promise in the government's approach to science and scientific inquiry.
Seattle Times editorial
ONE can almost feel a fresh breeze blowing. President Obama overturned his predecessor's anti-science policy and cleared the way for a significant increase in federal dollars for embryonic stem-cell research.
This is a good moment for science in the broader sense and specifically for millions of individuals with ailments who one day may benefit from more-aggressive study. Supporters believe stem-cell research could provide cures on a range of ailments from diabetes to paralysis.
One large failing of the Bush administration was its galling approach to science. Bush's 2001 order limited federal stem-cell research to lines created before Aug. 9 that year, a date significant only because of the timing of a presidential news conference. The net effect was a limited number of lines available for federally funded inquiry. Scientists who relied on federal dollars lost momentum for years.
Obama said his order is meant to restore "scientific integrity to government decision making." The president allows research on stem-cells lines created after 2001, often derived from embryos left over from fertility treatments that would otherwise be discarded. The decision does not allow federal funds to be used to create stem cells, without congressional approval. This is a thorny ethical issue that requires more discussion.
The stem-cell debate is deeply divisive but Americans are practical. Polls show a majority favor the benefits that might come from advanced research. Progress also can come from adult stem-cell research but scientists need reasonable access to both types of cells.
Obama's executive order reaches further than the stem-cell debate because it calls for new guidelines to apply to every federal agency. The focus is to be on science and inquiry, not politics.
Blow, wind, blow.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.