23 Jan 2009

FDA Allows Stem Cell Therapy - Future Freedom or Control?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the way for the world's first study of human embryonic stem cell therapy, Geron Corp said on Friday.

The California biotechnology company plans to start a clinical trial to try to use the stem cells to regrow nerve tissue in patients with acute spinal cord injury.

"This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics -- one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells," Geron Chief Executive Thomas Okarma said in a statement.
Former President George W. Bush had been at odds with Congress, researchers and advocates for years over the issue and by executive order restricted federal funding of work involving human embryonic stem cells.

President Barack Obama, who succeeded Bush on Tuesday, had been widely expected to rescind that directive. Although the FDA says it does not make decisions based on politics [No, as we know, the FDA largely makes decision on the basis of how much money there is to be made for their managers], the company made the decision public just days after Obama was sworn into office.

reporting from Reuters

As always, the scientific path towards the control of every aspect of life is littered with apparently good intentions. The formula to introduce controversial technologies is always the same. First find something palatable to cure - I mean, who can object to curing spinal cord injuries? Then, once the technology is in place just watch it spread. The use of genetically modified foods is one obvious example. Do you remember when trials were conducted under canopy to stop the seeds from spreading?

The arguments about the use of embryos will, no doubt, keep raging but for those who do not see a problem in that still watch out for when the new technology becomes a means of control rather than freedom. Ask those farmers who are now slaves to seed companies because the genetic modification makes seeds sterile so cannot be replanted.

The real battle here is not between religion and science. Although that is also true it hides another more important battle for everyone - that between freedom and control.

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