Illinois Gov Blagojevich Invites Missouri Stem Cell Research Companies

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 29, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois Gov Blagojevich Invites Missouri Stem Cell Research Companies Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 29, 2005

Springfield, IL ( — Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has a message for companies in Missouri conducting embryonic stem cell research: If the state gives you problems, move north. The governor is inviting companies to consider relocating to Illinois if Missouri lawmakers pass a ban on all forms of human cloning.

The Missouri state legislature is conducting a special session to consider legislation to help reduce the number of abortions and some lawmakers may want to revisit a bill that would ban human cloning.

In his letter, Blagojevich alluded to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, which has threatened to move if Missouri approves the anti-cloning measure.

"We encourage you to explore the possibility of moving to Illinois and leveraging our great research institutions, where many of your colleagues have found the freedom to explore the promise of stem cell research ," Blagojevich, a Democrat, said.

The Illinois governor is planning to send a letter to hundreds of research scientists and institutions in Missouri, including Washington University, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Academy of Science for St. Louis and universities and hospitals in the Kansas City area.

Last month, after the Illinois state legislature wouldn’t authorize state taxpayer dollars for unproven embryonic stem cell research, Blagojevich used an executive order to insert $10 million in funding into the state budget.

"By making this new public funding available here, Illinois has become one of the nation’s leaders in providing resources for stem cell research," Blagojevich wrote in the letter.

That made the state just the fourth to use taxpayer funds for the destructive research, including California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch told the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper the governor hopes to expand that figure in coming years.

"We’ll see what kind of grant applications we get and where the money goes," she said.

Despite Blagojevich’s contention the research will yield cures soon, last month, the British medical journal Lancet, an internationally respected publication, labeled as "sensationalist" and "hype" claims from scientists that embryonic stem cell research will soon result in cures for a host of diseases.

The Lancet published an editorial in its June 4 edition titled, "Stem cell research: hope and hype." The Lancet favors embryonic stem cell research but noted in the article that "no safe and effective stem cell therapy will be widely available for at least a decade, and possibly longer."

The British medical journal also published an opinion article from Neil Scolding, a British neurologist and researcher at the University of Bristol. Scolding highlights some of the logistical problems associated with research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

"[A]n increasing appreciation of the hazards of embryonic stem cells has rightly prevented the emergence or immediate prospect of any clinical therapies based on such cells," he wrote. "The natural propensity of embryonic stem cells to form [tumors], their exhibition of chromosomal abnormalities, and abnormalities in cloned mammals all present difficulties."