Connecticut Pours Millions Into Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   David Prentice, Ph.D.   |   Aug 15, 2011   |   12:10PM   |   Hartford, CT

You may have missed it, given that such occurrences have sadly become all too common, but another state has wasted good taxpayer dollars, pouring more money on unethical and unsuccessful embryonic stem cell research and ignoring life-saving adult stem cell research. 
The State of Connecticut recently announced the award of $9.8 million in state taxpayer funds for twenty stem cell research grants.  The list of new award winners was announced by the Connecticut Governor’s office on July 21.  While it’s difficult to know definitively due to the paucity of information provided, it appears that of the twenty grant awards, all or almost all fund research on human embryonic stem cells and/or human induced pluripotent stem cells, with no obvious funding for any adult stem cell research.
The Connecticut program was passed by the Connecticut state legislature in 2005, dedicating $100 million in state public funds over ten years toward “stem cell research on embryonic and human adult stem cells.”  So far, $59.04 million has been allocated for stem cell research in Connecticut.
While both embryonic and adult stem cell research supposedly are eligible for funding, the vast majority of grants have gone to keep the embryonic stem cell researchers afloat.  The legislation also claimed that it “bans the cloning of human beings in Connecticut”, but factually all it bans is the survival of cloned humans; the legislation allows cloning of human embryos for experiments, and requires that the cloned humans be destroyed and not gestated.  Definitions in legislation are paramount, and the Connecticut definition reads:
“Cloning of a human being” means inducing or permitting a replicate of a living human being’s complete set of genetic material to develop after gastrulation commences.
Gastrulation, which begins around 12 days after conception for conception, is simply another stage in embryonic development, leading up to specific organ formation.  So what the Connecticut legislation does is allow cloning of human embryos, but requires that any human clones be destroyed within the first two weeks of life.
Connecticut might want to take notice of California’s moves regarding embryonic stem cells, since they obviously copied  the essence of its legislation.  In 2004, California passed Proposition 71 (Prop 71), which put $3 billion state taxpayer dollars over ten years towards embryonic stem cell and cloning research.
As in Connecticut, pro-embryo research advocates touted the cures that would come from embryonic stem cells and human cloning, not to mention the many-fold return on taxpayer funds invested in such research.
Now nearing the end of the ten-year feeding trough with nothing to show to the taxpayers of California, they have increasingly invested money the last two years in Adult Stem Cells.  Of California grants aimed toward getting something into the clinic in the next few years, only 9 of 33 grants have gone toward embryonic stem cells, and zero toward cloning.  For a return on investment, only adult stem cells are helping patients and saving lives.