California Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Bash Ethics Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Embryonic Stem Cell Research Backers Bash Ethics Bill Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 7, 2005

Sacramento, CA ( — Members of the California committee charged with spending $3 billion in favor of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research met with state lawmakers on Monday with the hope of killing legislation that would hold the committee more accountable on its financial and organizational decisions.

But State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, a Democrat and the leading proponent of the measure, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "There are legitimate concerns."

Ortiz met with the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and members told her that no oversight is needed. They took turns attacking the proposal, which Ortiz has sponsored with Sen. George Runner, a Republican.

David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, said Ortiz should show more faith in the board.

"It is distinctly discouraging, what’s going on here," Baltimore told Ortiz. He added that someone who supports embryonic stem cell research, which Ortiz does, should "cheer on this group rather than tying us up."

Ortiz’s bill would help solve some of the problems of conflicts of interests on the panel and it would be required to follow standards issued by the National Institutes of Health.
Those rules prohibit employees from holding biotech or pharmaceutical stocks. The measure would extend those requirements to the entire California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and its advisory groups.

The measure received approval from a Senate election committee 5-0.

If the California legislature approves the measure, which needs a two-thirds vote, it could go on the ballot this November.

Thanks to lawsuits filed against the statewide committee charged with distributing billions in grants for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, donations for such research won’t be made until at least the fall.

Consumer groups and pro-life advocates associated with the campaign to defeat Proposition 71 filed lawsuits against the new panel. The result is that the cloning and embryonic research grants will be delayed because the sale of bonds to raise funds for grants has to be postponed.

The lawsuits filed by consumer groups People’s Advocate and National Tax Limitation Foundation, allege that the state is illegally funding the stem cell panel without being able to have oversight. The lawsuit also cites violations of conflict of interest and state open meetings laws.

The suit also points out that all but two members of the panel were appointed by top state officials, rather than elected or nominated by the public.