WASHINGTON, DC (February 22, 2001) --Michael J. Werner, director of federal government relations and bioethics counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued the following statement in support of a letter sent to President George W. Bush urging support for federal dollars for research on human embryonic stem cells, precursors of human differentiated cells. The letter was signed by 80 Nobel laureates and can be viewed at www.washingtonpost.com.
“The discovery of pluripotent stem cells may be the single most important scientific and medical breakthrough of the past decade. This work has the potential to impact the lives of millions of Americans suffering from many of humanity's most devastating illnesses, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and spinal cord injury. There is great hope that pluripotent stem cell research will result in new treatments and cures for many of these diseases and disabilities,” said Michael J. Werner, director of federal government relations and bioethics counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
“Last year, after considerable debate and discussion, the National Institutes of Health developed guidelines for federal funding for research using stem cells. This policy represents a delicate balance of the health, scientific, and ethical issues implicated by this technology. The guidelines include complete separation between those who conduct research and those who donate stem cells, strict informed consent rules, and creation of a federal oversight committee to ensure compliance.
“Consequently, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) supports existing NIH policy to allow for federal funding of research using stem cells. While private sector research has shown the vast potential of stem cells, federal funding will accelerate discovery and development of new treatments. It is our hope that the Bush Administration will allow this policy to remain in effect.”
BIO represents more than 960 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and more than 27 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural industrial and environmental biotechnology products.