Some good points are raised in a lecture at Yale:
Paul Berg, a professor of cancer research and biochemistry at Stanford University, made it clear from the start of his lecture last night which side of the stem cell debate he supports.
"How could any administration with any conscience at all prohibit the possibility of saving lives just because the technology offends them?"
He said in recent years scientists have feared the government may forbid certain lines of biomedical research altogether. Several bills have already passed through Congress and are sitting in the Senate that propose to make stem cell research a criminal offense.
"I am astonished that so many people are unaware that pending in our government is a law that says you will go to jail if you try to clone a stem cell," Berg said. "Biotechnology and certain valuable lines of biomedical research are at increasing risk."
In attacking the ethical dilemma of stem cell research, Berg drew a comparison to Dick Cheney's reformed stance on gay marriage. He said as soon as someone has a close friend or relative suffering from a disease that could benefit from stem cell research, his previous ideology goes out the window.
"I have no problem with the political system providing for the oversight of the application of new knowledge, but what we're seeing here is a big effort to prevent the acquisition of this knowledge altogether," he said.
"Political power is being used to prevent research that there is broad consensus could be highly beneficial," he said. "And thus science is being threatened."
As I have said before, these pending anti-research bills are the real source of damage to research: they scare away private funding and deter researchers from entering the field. If you oppose government restrictions on research, now is a good time to speak up and be heard.