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STEM CELL RESEARCH NOT EFFECTIVE FOR ALZHEIMER'S?


By NWV Staff Writer

Posted 12:53 AM Eastern
June 25, 2004

NewsWithViews.com

President Bush has been a long time opponent of embryonic stem cell research and continues restrictions on this type of research. Despite requests to reverse this position from such well known individuals like Nancy Reagan, widow of former President Ronald Reagan who passed away recently after suffering from Alzheimer's for the past decade, the Bush Administration stands firm on its position.

But, is stem cell research, the hope of so many who suffer from Alzheimer's, really the great hope that has been sold to them and the American people whose taxpayer dollars fund such research?

Washington Post reporter, Rick Weiss, recently delved into the issue in an interview with Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. According to McKay, "People need a fairy tale. Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand."

Such a statement strongly lends itself to the inference that biotech companies need taxpayer dollars from the American people to continue funding embryonic stem cell and cloning research - even if it means selling a fairy tale. The more positive publicity from sympathetic figures such as Nancy Reagan, who fully believes that embryonic stem cell research is the answer to a future cure for Alzheimer's, the more likely Congress is to shell out money for research.

Weiss went on to say that the distortions about stem cell research and Alzheimer's is "not being aggressively corrected by scientists." He noted, "It [Nancy Reagan's statement in support of ESCR] is the kind of advocacy that researchers have craved for years, and none wants to slow its momentum."

Welsey J. Smith wrote in a recent Daily Standard piece:

"Here's the story: Researchers have apparently known for some time that embryonic stem cells will not be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's, because as two researchers told a Senate subcommittee in May, it is a "whole brain disease," rather than a cellular disorder (such as Parkinson's). This has generally been kept out of the news. But now, Washington Post correspondent Rick Weiss, has blown the lid off of the scam, reporting that while useful abstract information might be gleaned about Alzheimer's through embryonic stem cell research, "stem cell experts confess . . . that of all the diseases that may be someday cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit."

"This is a scandal. Misrepresentation by omission corrupts one of the primary purposes of science, which is to provide society objective information about the state of scientific knowledge without regard to the political consequences. Such data then serves as a foundation for crucial moral analysis about whether and how controversial fields of scientific inquiry should be regulated, a debate in which all are entitled to participate. But we can't do so intelligently if we are not told the truth. Some scientists have become alarmed by how politicized science has become."

While the fight continues for private research to grab as much taxpayer funding as possible, constitutional hawks, while completely sympathetic to this terrible disease as well as others that strike down Americans, contend that the federal government has no authority to spend taxpayers dollars on such research. Proponents of federal taxpayer dollars being used contend that this type of expenditure is covered under the "general welfare" clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Many ask what is covered under the "general welfare clause" of the Constitution? According to Shawn O'Connor of the Free Enterprise Society in a speech several years ago on this question:

"Discussion of the general welfare clause of the Constitution by the courts relies upon the Federalist Papers. This term simply means: Taxation was to protect the individuals' life, liberty and ownership of private property. One can go to Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 1 of the constitution and read the general welfare clause. Then one can do some history research and see what the Anti-Federalists had to say about this clause:

"Patrick Henry was very vocal in his opposition to putting this kind of language into the constitution. Madison, however, assured Henry and others that all the general welfare clause represented was a preliminary introduction prior to the enumerating the specific powers the delegates were about to grant to this new federal government and that the general welfare clause granted no new power to the government whatsoever. It was simply an introductory statement.

"The Anti-Federalists still weren't satisfied. Hamilton and Madison came back to re-state that if the general welfare clause conveyed absolute power to the government, why would they go on to list the specific powers they were going to grant the government? That wouldn't make any sense at all if they were going to give absolute power to this government. It was finally conceded by all at the convention that the general welfare clause conveyed absolutely no power to the government. The general welfare clause of the constitution has been misused for personal gain by special interest groups."

As more and more Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer's and other diseases, the debate will continue over controversial issues such as the use of embryonic stem cells. The debate won't be just about taxpayer dollars being used, but also whether or not out right lying about the results of research is being used to secure this type of funding.

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Weiss went on to say that the distortions about stem cell research and Alzheimer's is "not being aggressively corrected by scientists." He noted, "It [Nancy Reagan's statement in support of ESCR] is the kind of advocacy that researchers have craved for years, and none wants to slow its momentum."