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Kerry 'stands up' for science and stem cell research

9 August 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 270

Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, has said in a radio interview that he would lift restrictions imposed by President Bush on embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. He added that he intended to 'stand up for science'.

The statements, transmitted on Saturday in the weekly Democratic radio address, marked the beginning of a series of events designed to mark the third anniversary of Bush's restrictions on ES cell research. On 9 August 2001, President Bush announced that federal funds would only be available to researchers working on ES cell lines already in existence by that date. He has maintained his position despite calls from scientists, Congress and the Senate, and influential public figures such as Nancy Reagan. Scientists believe that newer cell lines would be more beneficial to them, as since the restrictions were put in place, new techniques for creating them, without the use of mouse 'feeder' cells, for example, have been developed. They also believe the funding available - $25 million - is not enough, and say that only about two dozen of the 78 cell lines originally identified by the Bush administration are actually useable.

Kerry said that, if elected, he would increase federal funding for ES cell research. 'To those who pray each day for cures that are now beyond our reach, I want you to know that help is on the way'. He added 'Come next January, we're going to create a new anniversary - one that will be cause for celebration. We're going to lift the ban'.

On Sunday, the Democratic vice-president candidate, Senator John Edwards, joined the debate. He held a series of briefings, press conferences and rallies with doctors, patients, scientists and one of Kerry's daughters, designed to highlight the issue of ES cell research.

In response to the Democrats' work, Tommy Thompson, secretary of the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), released a statement. It said that Bush's policy is 'working' and confirmed that the president remains committed to it.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Kerry decries stem cell limits, promises funding
LA Times |  8 August 2004
Kerry in radio address says he would lift restrictions on stem cell research, questions Bush's commitment to science
Kaiser Network |  9 August 2004
Kerry takes on issue of embryo research
The Washington Post |  8 August 2004
Stem cell issue opens campaign divide
The Boston Globe |  8 August 2004
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