Remember all the hubbub last year over Bush's limits on embryonic stem-cell research? It turns out, reports the Chicago Tribune, that those limits don't cover research on fetuses at all.

"The Bush administration has approved the first federally funded project using stem cells obtained from fetuses aborted up to eight weeks after conception," the Tribune reported yesterday. "Because of a discrepancy in regulations, stem cells taken from fetuses are subject to different rules than similar cells from embryos. In fact, the cells derived from fetuses may qualify for a broader range of federal funds, government experts said. … Days-old embryos have some protections that 8-week-old fetuses don't."

John Gearhart of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his team of researchers received a $150,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the use of fetal cells in treating diabetes. The cells, called embryonic germ cells, came from fetuses aborted between five to eight weeks of development. Gearhart says the germ cells are just as versatile as embryonic stem cells. "If you look at the history of these cells, they basically are doing the same thing [as embryonic stem cells], they just represent a different source," he told the Tribune.

Know what else does basically the same thing as embryonic stem cells? Stem cells derived from adult bone marrow. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported yesterday, biologists at the University of Minnesota continue to have promising results with these cells, which no one opposes on bioethical grounds.

Even The New York Times had to admit that adult stem cells are in many ways preferable to embryonic ones. "But research on stem cells derived from embryos has progressed farther ...

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