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Print Version-Administration Must Embrace Scientific Research: Rep. Capuano Supports Stem Cell Research and Enhancement Act

HOUSE FLOOR STATEMENT

Administration Must Embrace Scientific Research
Rep. Capuano Supports Stem Cell Research and Enhancement Act


May 25, 2005

"Mr. Speaker,

"I rise today to express my strong support for H.R. 810 - the Stem Cell Research and Enhancement Act.

"I want to make it clear that the type of scientific research some in this chamber are trying to prevent WILL occur. It IS occurring as we speak - all around the world.

"However, we face a substantial threat that in this new field, with all of its promise and potential, America will be left behind. If our current political leadership continues to restrict research as other countries embrace it - we risk losing not only our research edge, but also our scientists. American scientists will pursue their research in places like Korea and Israel, and international scientists will no longer come to America as they have for generations... people like Einstein and Fermi, just to name two.

"Make no mistake - as a result of the restrictive policies of this Congress and the current Administration, many companies may not invest in this research here in America. However, American companies will make sure that they have a piece of this business by investing in foreign countries where the basic research has been performed, scientists have perfected the techniques, and the government is welcoming to their industry, not hostile to it. Private industry will look for a place to make these investments because the chance that this research could produce cures for many devastating diseases seems very good not only to scientists, but also to business leaders.

"It is simple: there is no question that this research will occur; there is no question that this research will result in scientific breakthroughs; there is no question that this science will create jobs and wealth. The only question is, who will benefit. Will America lead the way as we have in all other scientific advancements? Will we be the pioneers and producers? Or, will we relegate ourselves to mere consumers who send our fortunes around the world?

"The question is whether America will continue to lead the world in scientific breakthroughs or take a backseat to other countries.

"We can already read articles in our daily newspapers that tell us of the commitments other countries have made to this research and the subsequent advancements they have made. Two years ago, China announced plans for the construction of a massive stem cell complex in Tianjin, which is scheduled for completion in 2010. One of their professors claimed, "We are not that far behind [the West] anymore." We have come a long way from the shocking news eight years ago that researchers in Scotland cloned Dolly the Sheep to the promising news just last week that researchers in South Korea produced 11 new embryonic stem cell lines that were genetic matches to patients with devastating diseases and ailments. Increasingly we are reading about advances that occur in other places around the world. Some of these advances raise ethical concerns, but because they do not occur on our shores, we do not have a say over the ethical standards and considerations that accompany the research.

"I do not intend to imply that nothing is happening in America. To the contrary, many scientists, many of them in my own district, are working feverishly to find new cures for various diseases. I understand that some Americans object to embryonic stem cell research. However, many thoughtful, principled persons from all of our nation's religious and ethical traditions support embryonic stem cell research. Self-anointed moralists should not jeopardize the health of our loved ones and the economic future of our country.

"We will not know for another decade just how far we have fallen behind the rest of the world. I am including for the record just a small list of scientific breakthroughs using these procedures that have been made in other countries. We have waited long enough to expand our nation's restrictive policy. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes for H.R. 810."

A concise world history of stem cell research
Year Location Significant breakthrough event

1997

Scotland

An embryologist at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh created a lamb using DNA from adult sheep - known to the world as Dolly the Sheep

2002

Singapore

Researchers grow human embryonic stems cells without using animal cells to protect them.

2003

Japan & Scotland

Researchers identify a gene in embryonic stem cells that allows them to regenerate and develop into any kind of cell.

2004

Israel

Researchers develop human embryonic stem cells into beating heart cells.

2004

Israel

Scientists coax Embryonic Stem Cells to become nerve cells that when transplanted into rats with symptoms of Parkinson's alleviate some of the symptoms.

2004

Israel & Chicago

Teams from Israel and Chicago develop disease-specific embryonic stems cell lines from embryos carrying genetic disorder.

2004

South Korea

Researchers produce a human embryonic stem cell line through somatic cell nuclear transfer.

2005 (just last week)

South Korea

Scientists create stem cell lines that are tailored to match the DNA of patients with medical conditions, creating 11 new lines from patients with spinal cord injuries and juvenile diabetes - putting the promise of effective treatments within reach.

--

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208

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