Passage of Stem Cell Ballot Measure Would Attract New Businesses to State, Analysis Says
Proposition 71, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would fund embryonic stem cell research, would result in "new businesses that would otherwise not be in California," according to an analysis by the Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 10/4). The measure would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 9/30).
Critics of the measure say the state cannot afford the bonds at a time when it is trying to reduce a nearly $14 billion budget deficit. Opponents also question whether stem cell research would "spur economic growth by creating cures" to diseases, the Mercury News reports.
According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, developing a treatment costs on average $800 million, and stem cell treatments are likely to cost more because they will need to be studied longer and evaluation may be more difficult. Scientists who support Proposition 71 say a treatment generated by the initiative would cost more than the program and is a goal that is far in the future.
If passed, California would become the nation's largest funding source for embryonic stem cell research (San Jose Mercury News, 10/4).
The following newspapers examined Proposition 71.
Washington Times: The Times on Saturday examined how the "contentious" Proposition 71 is "adding fuel to the fire this election year" on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. According to the Times, the measure was the "focus of intense debate" on Wednesday during a panel discussion sponsored by Scientific American magazine on the future of stem cell research and later that day at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing on the issue (Fagan, Washington Times, 10/2).
- Hartford Courant: The Courant on Sunday examined how passage of the "audacious" and "controversial" Proposition 71 could place California "in the midst of a new gold rush" that would attract "many talented young researchers." According to the Courant, the measure "would put California in a position to dominate" embryonic stem cell research, as the state "in essence ... will be buying more stem cell scientists, who remain in short supply in the United States" (Hathaway, Hartford Courant, 10/3).
Aside from the "very real ethical dilemma over using embryonic stem cells, the problem is that proponents of stem cell research are less than forthright about reality" -- stem cell research, "whether from adult or embryonic stem cells, is still in a state of infancy," the Washington Times writes in an editorial. The editorial continues that since the 1990s, several countries have been researching embryonic stem cells "with few tangible gains and zero cures." Although California may vote to fund stem cell research, "the real test of America's deep ethical misgivings about such technologies will emerge if and when research begins to yield practical results," the editorial concludes (Washington Times, 10/4).
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.