Obama frees up stem cell research — Is this too little, too late?


A
s expected, yesterday Obama signed an executive order overturning Bush’s ban on the use of federal dollars for stem cell research. (See Monday’s post for details.) The president described it as an untangling of religion and science.
    “In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” Obama said, according to a CNN report. “In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.”
    The U.S. can now join the ranks of nations leading stem cell research. Take a look at this map to see nations with a “permissive” policy (such as Australia, China, Israel, United Kingdom, and others) or a “flexible” policy (such as Brazil, Canada, France, Taiwan, and others).
    You’ll also see lots of black dots, each one the location of a genome sequencing center. Several are in the U.S. Californians voted in 2004 to provide state funding for “permissive” research on stem cells. California and other states that funded stem cell research are expected to benefit right away by the new national policy. (Read about California’s stem cell agency here.)
    Is it too, too late?
    Can America catch up?
    Or, has the hobbling of science by the previous administration made America lose its advantage in this field of science?

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