Brownback Bill Threatens Major Medical Advances

March 5, 2002 (Washington, D.C.)-In conjunction with today’s hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on “The Dangers of Cloning and the Promise of Regenerative Medicine,” Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement:

“With an upcoming Senate vote on a proposed ban of all applications of human cloning, including therapeutically oriented research, the time has come to cut through the abstractions and talk plainly about the benefits of this research-and the potential consequences if it is criminalized. The cellular and tissue transplants that could emerge from this technology could benefit tens of millions of Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and heart disease.

“Last August, President Bush took the important step of funding embryonic stem cell research, but without therapeutic cloning to produce patient-matched stem cells for use in real-life clinical situations, the benefits of this research could remain hypothetical. Therapeutic cloning is our best hope of generating transplant cells, tissue and organs that will not be rejected by the immune system.

“In short, stem cell research and therapeutic cloning offer the prospect of major advances in medicine. Criminalizing therapeutic cloning and treatments based on the technology, as Sen. Sam Brownback proposes, would move the research and its benefits overseas-and out of reach to Americans.

“We hope that the senators who supported stem cell research in 2001 but are now under pressure from well-funded research opponents will not succumb to that pressure. We urge them to support life-saving research and reject the Brownback bill.”

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural and environmental biotechnology products.