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Scientists and patient groups behind a $3 billion California stem-cell bond initiative are employing deceptive tactics, opponents claim, to cover up the type of experimentation the public's money would fund.
In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 71. The bond measure would amend the state constitution to provide $259 million a year for 10 years for research. It puts a priority on embryonic stem-cell research that the federal government does not currently allow. In 2001, President Bush banned the destruction of additional human embryos for federally funded research. Prop. 71 would establish an institute that would issue research grants.
Prop. 71 backers hope to make California "a world leader in stem-cell research," leading to breakthroughs in many intractable diseases and disabilities. Supporters recently launched the
California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, a coalition of disease and patient advocacy organizations that has already raised $11 million to promote Prop. 71.
Opponents—who include an unlikely crew of bioethics watchdogs, faith-based groups, feminists, and environmentalists—say supporters are misleading voters by not referring to the experimentation as the cloning of human embryos. Prop. 71 research would include somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)—a technical term for the cloning technique that produced Dolly, the sheep. The resulting human clone would be destroyed in order to harvest stem cells that researchers prize for their ability to specialize. (Prop. 71 would, however, prohibit ...1
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