Wall St. Firms Plan Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Protests Begin

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wall St. Firms Plan Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Protests Begin Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 12
, 2005

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — Several large firms on Wall Street have announced that they will engage in embryonic stem cell research. The announcement will likely draw protests from pro-life advocates who oppose the destruction of human life for unproven research.

The Wall St. Journal reported on Tuesday that large corporations such as Becton, Dickinson & Co., Invitrogen Corp., and Johnson & Johnson plan to conduct stem cell research using days old unborn children.

Meanwhile, General Electric Co. and the US-based headquarters of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG may also begin research programs involving the destruction of human embryos.

The announcement didn’t go over well with investors as stocks from all of the companies traded lower early Tuesday and were only helped when a general bull market momentum swung most stocks upwards by the closing bell. Still, shares of Johnson and Johnson traded lower and were off 25 cents on the day.

Meanwhile, pro-life organizations have already called for a boycott of the companies involved.

Debi Vinnedge, director of Children of God for Life, which investigates the use of tissue from abortions used in vaccinations, says pro-life advocates should let the companies know they oppose the idea.

Vinnedge is a longtime GE stockholder, but she said Tuesday’s decisions outraged her and her group.

"Despite the declining value of the current market price of their stock, we are left with no choice but to sell it and re-invest in companies that are not involved in unethical research," she said.

She urged others to divest their portfolios of any stock in the companies.

"Whether or not you are a shareholder in GE or any of the other companies … we encourage you to contact them at once, voice your complaint and threaten a boycott."

Large corporations have mostly been absent from the stem cell research arena and private investment firms have pursued companies and universities conducting adult stem cell research.

That’s because adult stem cells have produced dozens of cures and treatments while embryonic stem cells have yet to produce any treatments or cure any patients.

With household names like GE and Johnson and Johnson engaging in the unproven research, advocates of using tax dollars for it may have another weapon in their lobbying arsenal.

David Prentice, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington and a former Indiana State University professor, told the Wall St. Journal, "Because of the moral issue, many of us would not want it funded at either the federal or the private level."

The Journal also reports that this is not the first time the companies have engaged in the research, though it is the first time they will do so directly. Johnson & Johnson has contracted out research to California firms while Becton Dickinson receives stem cell supplies from the University of Wisconsin.

GE spokesman Jim Healy said in a statement that the company plans to acquire embryonic stem cells for research later this year for drug testing to develop products. He said GE scientists have already been using embryonic stem cells but did not say where they were obtained.

At Invitrogen, CEO Gregory Lucier told company employees about the new program to supply embryonic stem cells to researchers and he told the Journal that employees not wanting to be involved could opt out.

Other pharmaceutical firms are not going into the embryonic stem cell business.

Eli Lilly & Co. told the Journal it doesn’t use embryonic stem cells and would look for alternatives before doing so. Jean-Pierre Garnier, chief executive of drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, says his firm doesn’t use them because they are too experimental. Policies at Baxter International do not allow use of the controversial cells.

According to the WSJ, Merck & Co. purchased embryonic stem cells but destroyed them before using them and company policy prohibits its scientists from using them.

ACTION: Contact General Electric with your concerns — General Electric Shareholder Information, Attention: William Cary, VP,
3135 East Turnpike, Fairfield, CT 06828, (p) 203 373-2475 or 203 373-2468, (e) [email protected]

Related web sites:
Children of God for Life – https://www.cogforlife.org