Annual Winners and Losers

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President

The CBC 2006 Winners and Losers

WINNERS:

Collin McGuckin: Professor McGuckin and team have grown an artificial liver from umbilical cord stem cells. It is hailed as being the vital first step in creating a fully artificial liver that can be used for transplants. McGuckin says “the transplant of a section of liver grown from cord blood could be possible within the next 10 to 15 years.

Cord Blood Registry: CBR is the largest newborn stem cell bank in the world established this year. CBR has set the standard in the cord blood banking industry with newly designed computer monitoring and tracking systems: Ensuring the security of the stem cells, establishing efficient techniques for processing samples, and expanding storage facilities with the capacity to house over 20 million newborn stem cell units in 674 cryogenic vaults.

Presidential Veto: George Bush’s first and only veto on destructive embryo research continued his principled and ethical framework for scientific research to advance. The veto maintains an important fire wall between women and couples who use in vitro fertilization technologies to make embryos to make babies and the researcher who has a vested interest in these couples donating their spare or leftover embryos for research.

Kofi Annan: Though critical of US foreign policy, the controversial, out-going U.N. Secretary-General warns that dangers from a rapidly growing biotechnology industry are increasing and urges creating global safeguards. He says, “We lack an international system of safeguards to manage those risks. Scientists may do their best to follow rules for responsible conduct of research. But efforts to harmonize these rules on a global level are outpaced by the galloping advance of science itself.”

California: Voted no *again* for AB 654- the state’s compassionate choice act, which was mirrored after Oregon’s “death with dignity” act. A bi-partisan vote shut out the bill as Californians saw it lacked true compassion since it would legalize physicians prescribing lethal doses to their patients in order to terminate their lives.

Hands Off Our Ovaries: An international group calling for a moratorium on human eggs for research worked together with groups like the Women’s Forum of Australia: We applaud the efforts of people around the world to stand up for women’s health and safety issues, calling for responsible biotechnology.

LOSERS:

Missourians: The people of Missouri have been deceived and have narrowly passed the deceptive amendment 2. The Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative claimed to ban human cloning, but it actually provides constitutional protection for human cloning research, banning only the gestation of a human clone and thus mandating the destruction of any human clones that are produced for research purposes.

Nina Thanki: 5 days after a routine IVF procedure, Thanki (37) died of complications associated with her egg retrieval. Rajesh, her husband, commented “If the hospital had told me there was even a one per cent risk of Nina dying I would have said no, we are not doing this.” Even though remote, there are myriad risks associated with IVF procedure.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: In direct response to the Bush veto, the Governor took executive action, loaning $150 million to move proposition 71 research along in California. Robert Klein, Chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine had successfully duped California tax payers into funding 3 billion dollars towards embryonic stem cell research back in November 2004. But because of pending lawsuits against the stem cell initiative, bonds have not been able to be sold.

Anna Pou, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo: Arrested on July 17 for murder, on charges of giving lethal injections to four patients judged too sick to leave the New Orleans hospital. A trial is pending and no formal indictment has been brought against Dr. Pou and nurses Landry and Budo. While acknowledging the harrowing circumstances faced by those in hurricane Katrina, euthanizing patients in their greatest hour of need is the worst form of patient abandonment.

Chinese death row prisoners: After years of denial, China has acknowledged that most of the human organs used in transplants in China are taken from executed prisoners and that many of the recipients are also foreigners who pay hefty sums to avoid a long wait. Reports have surfaced suggesting that retinas and kidneys have been taken from executed gang members without their consent.

Richard Dawkins: Dawkins an avowed aetheist says “Eugenics may not be bad.” He wonders “whether, some 60 years after Hitler’s death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons. Or why it is acceptable to train fast runners and high jumpers but not to breed them.” Recently Dawkins debated Francis Collins in Time magazine and claime
d, “once you buy into the position of faith, you begin losing your scientific credibility.”

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