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US states making stem cell policies

17 May 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 258

Two US states have made further moves to regulate or promote embryonic stem  cell (ES cell) research. In New Jersey last Wednesday, state Governor James McGreevey signed a bill to create the first state-funded ES cell research centre. And, on the same day, the Health and Welfare Committee of the Louisiana Senate approved legislation allowing embryos to be cloned for ES cell research while banning human reproductive cloning.

In January, McGreevey signed into law a bill banning reproductive cloning but allowing the use of cloning technology for research into stem cell medicine, and stated his ambition to put New Jersey at the forefront of such research. In his budget address earlier this year, he announced that New Jersey would provide $6.5 million in funding for a stem cell research institute, and $50 million over the next five years for research into human ES cells.

The new ES cell research institute is expected to cost about $25 million to build. It will be built in the city of New Brunswick and managed jointly by Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The funding has yet to be authorised by the state legislature, but McGreevey is confident that it will be passed. If it is, New Jersey will become the second US state to publicly finance such research. 'We have embraced an issue to  improve the lives of others', said McGreevey, adding 'we can have no higher calling as a state or as a people'.

In June 2003, a judiciary committee of the Louisiana Senate approved a bill to extend a prohibition on reproductive cloning in the state for a further three years. The bill would also have banned cloning for research purposes but, after a unanimous vote of the committee, was amended to take out these provisions. That bill should have been considered by the full Senate, but died before the end of the session. The new Louisiana bill, sponsored by state Senate president Donald Hines, makes reproductive cloning a criminal offence, subject to individual fines of up to $5 million and corporate fines of up to $10 million. Cloning to create embryos for ES cell research would be allowed. The bill now passes to the full Senate for consideration, but is up against other bills attempting to ban all forms of cloning.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Governor's signature places Jersey in forefront of stem cell research
New Jersey Star Ledger |  13 May 2004
Louisiana Senate Committee Approves Cloning Ban Bill That Would Allow Cloning for Research Purposes
Kaiser Network |  14 May 2004
McGreevey signs agreement on stem cell research
Newsday |  12 May 2004
McGreevey Signs Bill Creating Stem Cell Research Institute
The New York Times |  13 May 2004
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