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The Hard Cell

Reports of a major breakthrough in the science of stem cells were premature, and wrong.

12:00 AM, Sep 11, 2006 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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3. Science is in danger of devolving into a special interest: ACT's deception has cast klieg lights on a cancer that is corroding the foundation of science: As Big Biotech and its politicized allies among the science intelligentsia seek desperately to destroy the Bush funding policy in order to garner hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, scientists are acting increasingly like special interest lobbyists who are more than willing to twist the truth to gain access to the public trough. This intense politicization of science threatens to erode the public's trust in the entire science sector.

Ethics aside, Lanza's published paper incrementally advanced scientific knowledge by proving that under the right circumstances, embryonic stem cells could be derived from very early embryos. This is not the same thing as generating stem cells without destroying embryos, a feat that has not yet been--and may never be--accomplished. But incremental experiments do not make international headlines or substantially undermine President Bush's stem cell funding policy. And thus was a journalistic debacle born.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His current book is Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World.