AAAS CEO Alan Leshner Urges Defeat of U.S. House Stem Cell Measure
AAAS, the world's largest general science society and publisher of the journal Science, today urged members of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to reject an amendment to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill that would punish NIH-funded scientists at institutions conducting research on stem cells derived from cloned embryos.
Penalizing institutions and researchers involved in cutting-edge fields such as molecular biology, cancer and neuroscience "would be shortsighted and delay advances in many areas of science," AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science, wrote in a letter to committee members.
A Labor-HHS bill amendment by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) would stipulate that "none of the funds made available by [the] act or hereafter through the National Institutes of Health may be made available to any state, or to any program, agency, or institute of any state or local government or subdivision thereof, or to any Federal agency or program, or to any corporation, educational institution, or other entity, during any federal fiscal year in which such entity is engaged in or funding human cloning, or engaged in or funding research utilizing all or part of any cloned human embryo or other human clone," the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress reported.
If approved in coming days during markup of the Labor-HHS bill, the amendment "would be tantamount to a law banning research cloning by anyone in this country," Leshner said. "It could force this vital research out of the United States and seriously impede the progress of scientific advances to improve human welfare."
The AAAS Board of Directors issued a resolution in February 2002 supporting "stem cell research, including the use of nuclear transplantation techniques (also known as research or therapeutic cloning), in order to realize the enormous potential health benefits this technology offers." At the same time, AAAS urges "a legally enforceable ban on efforts to implant a human cloned embryo for the purpose of reproduction."
All responsible scientists agree that human reproductive cloning should not be pursued, Leshner noted.
Read the full text of Alan Leshner's letter here.
16 June 2005