Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Group forms for embryonic stem cell research in MI- potential ballot issue for 2008?

Dick DeVos and the MI-GOP oppose embryonic stem cell reasearch, a position currently at odds with 73% of Michigan.

Since the Republicans in our legislature act under the orders of Right to Life (70 of 110 endorsed) and the Michigan Catholic Conference while they ignore the rest of the people, a new group formed recently might be part of the answer to getting the harsh restrictions on embryonic stem cell research lifted and so we can join and compete with the rest of the country in this field.

While this group may help educate people, the real answer lies in making sure that DeVos does not become governor and electing legislators that will act on the needs of the people of Michigan.

LANSING, Mich. -- Cathy Coury looks forward to the day when researchers may find a cure for the juvenile diabetes that makes her young sons' lives a constant round of insulin shots and blood-sugar monitoring.

On Monday, she joined with researchers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, elected officials and policy makers to formally kick off a bipartisan group, Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures, that plans to make the case that Michigan's tough restriction on embryonic stem cell research is blocking important medical gains and hurting the state's economy.

"I want to know researchers are out there exploring every option," said Coury, who lives in Grand Rapids and is the legislative chairwoman of the West Michigan Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

The stem cell advocacy group doesn't plan to endorse any lawmakers or any specific legislation. But it does hope to make its case with the public that the state is losing out on potential cures and economic benefits by restricting embryonic stem cell research.

Perhaps it should endorse lawmakers and legislation. After all, if Dick DeVos were to become governor, the group's goals have no chance at success. DeVos is opposed to this potential life saving research.

DeVos opposes embryonic stem cell research, although he supports research on adult stem cells.

Another dodge from Dick, trying to make his position palatable- adult stem cells don't carry the same potential. This is the exact same position as the Right to Life and Bush. From a story on the Bush veto earlier this year-

Right to Life of Michigan, which supports the Bush veto, said researchers could concentrate on treatments using adult stem cells -- those obtained from the umbilical cords of newborns or donors for cancer patients.

And those fun folks in Lansing play along with this gambit, passing an adult stem cell bill in the House recently while ignoring and/or blocking bills for embryonic cell research, much to the dismay of Andy Meisner and other Democrats.

The Michigan Catholic Conference, part of the one-two punch that controls our Republican legislature, seems to think that this group is the beginning of a potential ballot issue for 2008.

Michigan Catholic Conference spokesman Dave Maluchnik said Monday that he thinks embryonic stem cell advocates, finding themselves stymied by the Legislature, will try to take the issue to Michigan voters.

"I think the process today began a ballot campaign for 2008 on this issue," he said.

They also try the "adult" bit.
Maluchnik said current research on adult stem cells is finding cures without having to use embryonic stem cells.

"We have a message of being positive and wanting to find cures as well, and we think we can do that through adult stem cells," he said.

They keep saying that, and the doctors and researchers keep telling them they are wrong.

Who do you believe, the people who do this for a living, or the people who have a religious agenda? Let's hear from Joe Schwarz, who was part of the news conference today-

Schwarz, an ear, nose and throat specialist, disputed that. He said embryonic stem cells can foster more cures than adult stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells.

And a researcher-

Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology, agreed with Schwarz that embryonic stem cell research offers potential medical advancements that adult stem cell research does not. He warned about legislating "out of ignorance and misinformation."

And another-

"Because of the unique properties of embryonic stem cells, we just can't expect the same range of benefits from using adult stem cells," said Dr. Ed Nieshoff, a spinal cord injury research scientist at the Michigan Rehabilitation Institute in Detroit. He called the veto "a tremendous setback not only for Michigan but the nation."

Scientists and companies are leaving Michigan to go to states where the laws won't restrict their progress.

Yet despite the cause for optimism, and the weight and resources of one of the nation's top research institutions behind it, the program, just 2 years old, has already lost some of its top scientists to other states.

They have gone to states such as California, where last year 59 percent of voters gave the OK to $3 billion in public funding for embryonic stem cell research over the next 10 years.

"There are companies that have come out of the University of Michigan and gone to California," Sean Morrison, the new director for U-M's Center for Stem Cell Biology, said Friday at a conference for journalists at the university.

Craig DeRoche doesn't care.

Matt Resch, spokesman for House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, said stem cell research hasn't been an issue in the Legislature and shouldn't necessarily be thought of in terms of economic benefit.

Granholm has a petition, go sign now! - but I doubt it will get anywhere unless you fire your local Republican this November.

Time to clean House!