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Michigan Senate passes stem cell regulation bill

04 May 2010

By Nisha Satkunarajah

Appeared in BioNews 556

The Michigan State Senate (US) has passed legislation which would lead to tight monitoring and regulation of research using stem cells derived from human embryos.

The legislation prohibits the sale or purchase of human eggs and would also require research facilities, including universities, to file annual reports listing how many human embryos they have stored and other data. The legislation also includes provisions for civil fines of up to $5,000 and would make some violations felonies punishable by up to a year in prison.

The bill passed in the Republican-led Senate by a 25-12 vote and will now move on to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. it is thought that the measures, which are backed mainly by conservative Republicans and groups including the Michigan Catholic Conference are likely to die there. Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon said on Wednesday that the Senate measures 'appear to be political in nature' and ignore the will of the people.

However, supporters in the Senate said that new regulation is needed to clarify vague areas of Proposal 2, the constitutional amendment voters approved in 2008 that expands use of human embryos for any research permitted under federal law. Senator Tom George, lead sponsor of the legislation claims it 'clarifies the law, provides transparency in the research process, and enacts critical oversight provisions to protect this industry.'

The bills are opposed by Michigan universities and other proponents of embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research, which they say holds the promise of cures for many diseases, while boosting economic development in Michigan's burgeoning stem cell research industry.

Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute's Center for Stem Cell Biology criticised the legislation: 'You can't imagine the chilling effect this would have on stem cell research and how frustrating this is after the people have spoken that the legislature still has the ability to block main stream research.'

'People talk about diversifying the economy and having a more diverse science sector, as long as the state government is trying to send stem cell biologists to jail, we can't do that.'

Pro-life Republican Senator Bruce Patterson of Canton joined Democrats in opposing the package. He said he believes the bills are unconstitutional because the amendment approved by voters allows stem cell research within the same limits allowed by federal law.

The Detroit News | 21 April 2010
Michigan news: Senate passes bill to monitor stem cell research | 22 April 2010
Bioscience Technology | 21 April 2010
Michigan Senate Seeks to Regulate Stem Cell Research
Inside Higher Ed | 22 April 2010
The Detroit News | 22 April 2010
WHTC | 22 April 2010 | 21 April 2010


14 November 2011 - by Rachel Lloyd 
Voters in the US state of Mississippi have voted against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined life as beginning at fertilisation. The proposed amendment would have afforded embryos and fetuses – whether conceived naturally or artificially - similar legal protection as that covering all US citizens but was rejected by over 55 per cent of voters on 8 November...
11 April 2011 - by Nishat Hyder 
The American states of Minnesota and Oklahoma are both in the process of passing legislation that will criminalise certain embryonic stem (ES) cell research procedures....
14 February 2011 - by Leo Perfect 
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has opened a stem cell research facility paid for by private and state money approved by Californian voters. As no federal funds were used, researchers can avoid federal funding policy restrictions on human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research....
14 February 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
France's parliament is to debate on whether current bioethics laws prohibiting research on human embryos should be eased....
02 August 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
Research scientists from Bristol University have received funding from Catholic parishioners, to use adult stem cells for therapeutic applications, reports the BBC....

10 November 2008 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
President-elect Barack Obama's victory in last week's US presidential elections is being celebrated by supporters of embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Senator Obama has been a vocal advocate of removing the current restriction on federal funds for human ES cell research imposed by President Bush in 2001...
18 August 2008 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Opponents of embryonic stem (ES) cell research in the US have requested that Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, if elected president, retain President Bush's ban on federal funding for the research. As both White House contenders, McCain and Obama, look to secure Catholic votes, the pro-life...
11 February 2008 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Language contained in a petition to overturn the prohibition of embryonic stem (ES) cell research in Michigan has been accepted by the state board of canvassers. The petition now requires over 380,000 signatures for it to be placed on November's ballot, when citizens will be allowed to...

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