(WASHINGTON, D.C., November 12, 1998). . . Carl B Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), today issued the following statement on the need for national discussion based on the ethical implications of recent research breakthroughs involving primordial human stem cells.)
"In the past week, two biotech companies have reported what appear to be significant research achievements. Although medical applications may be years away, the work of these biotech companies could lead to significant breakthroughs in new therapies and cures for heart, kidney and liver diseases, cancer, neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, burns and paralysis. These advances also could help us better understand developmental and cell biology.
"In addition to the potentially enormous health benefits, these research achievements raise bioethical questions that require thorough and open national discussion. We applaud the two biotech companies for recognizing and presenting the issues raised by their research. These are issues that, in some instances, involve sincerely held social and religious beliefs and perspectives.
"BIO urges President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission to review all ethical issues raised by the recently announced research and, after reasoned discussion, to make recommendations to the president on how best to address the implications.
"At the same time, we must make certain anxious excitement generated by the pace of biotechnology breakthroughs does not prompt lawmakers to introduce state and federal legislation that inadvertently impedes biomedical research to the detriment of us all."
The Biotechnology Industry Organization represents more than 800 companies, academic institutions and state biotechnology centers in 47 states and 25 nations. Members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental management biotechnology products.