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AAAS Decries Latest Stem Cell Veto
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on Wednesday expressed disappointment with the decision by President George W. Bush to veto a landmark stem cell research funding bill.
The measure would have lifted restrictions on federal funding of medical research using embryonic stem cells, which proponents say would be derived from microscopic embryos left over and due to be discarded after in vitro fertility treatments. Current U.S. policy limits such funding to fewer than 20 stem cell lines that had been created when the president first announced U.S. policy in 2001.
"Our concern is that this action has the potential to delay development of important new therapies by cutting off a promising avenue of research," said Alan I. Leshner, the chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science.
The president vetoed a similar bill that passed the Senate and House of Representatives last year. This year's measure won strong bi-partisan support in the U.S. House and Senate, but fell just short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override the veto.
While Bush signed a separate Executive Order to support other stem cell research, AAAS "strongly believes" that all avenues of stem cell research must be explored, the non-partisan association said a statement.
The following is the full text of the AAAS statement:
"The President has again vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would expand federal support for embryonic stem cell research. AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society, stands with a broad coalition of Americans spanning all parties and faiths that supports this bill.
"The scientific consensus is that embryonic stem cell research is an extremely promising approach to developing more effective treatments for devastating conditions like diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and Parkinson's disease. The bill would mandate that such research be allowed to compete for federal funding while following strict ethical guidelines.
"The Executive Order is not a substitute for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The new approaches addressed by the order are still in the early stages of development and appear to already be eligible for NIH funding. AAAS strongly believes that it is only through federal support of diverse avenues of stem cell research, including especially embryonic stem cell research, that we may better understand the potential value and limitations of each approach.
"During his tenure the President has acknowledged that it is a critical time for the American scientific enterprise, therefore it is disappointing that he has chosen to maintain restrictions on such a promising area of research. AAAS will continue to support the interests of scientists and patients in fostering medical progress."
AAAS, founded in 1848, is the world's largest general scientific society, serving 262 affiliated societies and academies of science that reach 10 million individuals. It publishes the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world and an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit association is open to everyone and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
20 June 2007