In a pointless display of ideology over common sense, President Obama is planning on releasing the funding blocks on embryonic stem cell research. Why this is a stupid thing to do is obvious. The issue is massively contentious and divisive. This move will cause a large groundswell of discontent at exactly the time that Obama needs the people of American to pull together – and to no purpose.
Because of recent successful research into alternative sources of stems cells manufactured from skin cells, the whole issue is now moot. Within six to eighteen months, the UK scientist who discovered this say the technique will be refined enough to allow stem cells to be manufactured easily. Because these stem cells can be manufactured from a individual, the DNA in these stem cells is identical with the donor, making application far more likely to be useful. I would expect this technique to be used in the treatment of leukaemia within 2-3 years. It is an extraordinary breakthrough and one that would have either been delayed or not happened at all if Bush had not restricted stem cell research funding.
Either Obama has let his ideology triumph over his common sense, or he has succumbed to pressure from powerful lobbyists. These lobbyists are backed by the IVF clinics who stand to make a real killing from surplus blastocysts (in all senses of the word) and the profit-driven research companies, for whom an extra year ahead in the research game may be worth billions.