Missing the Point From the Other Side

One item that campaigners and politicians opposed to embryonic stem cell research like to point out is the comparative absence of private funding for this field of science. Well, that funding isn't there because anti-research groups have pushed very hard - and with a fair amount of success - to restrict or outright ban embryonic research and the very essential technology of therapeutic cloning. If you're a venture capitalist, you don't invest in companies that may have their main line of research and revenue criminalized in the near future.

A piece in Forbes today misses the same point from the other side while in the process of disparaging California Proposition 71:

If the prop passes, cash-strapped California taxpayers will be spending their money on a handful of second-rate biotech companies that the smart venture capital money housed around San Francisco's famed Bay Area already passed on. To the smart money, these companies had poor prospects and, in many cases, shoddy or highly speculative science.

That's not to say Wall Street's elite investors didn't make their own investments in stem-cell research. But after years of delays, disappointments, and dead ends, most of the venture capital that once flowed into these ventures is slowing down and awaiting better science to come out of institutions and academic research.

In a page of this sort of commentary, the author somehow neglects to mention that these poor prospects came about due to ongoing efforts to restrict and criminalize this field of research. By his criteria, a company like Advanced Cell Technology is shoddy, speculative and second rate. This is obviously nonsense.

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