Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Deception in the Stem-cell Research Debate :: Argumentative Persuasive Topics

Deception in the Stem-cell Research Debate    The Nobel laureates' inaccurate letter to President Bush urging him to feed federal funds to human-embryo stem-cell research has had PR value in the media. It perpetuates a number of misconceptions and misleading statements regarding stem-cell research, particularly embryonic as opposed to adult stem-cell research, and will serve to continue to cloud the issue. Some of these deceptive statements are the subject of this essay. I believe President Bush and his staff are well aware of the truth about embryonic versus adult stem-cell research. Unfortunately, many in the public will read about this letter, recognize some high-profile "icons" or simply that there are a lot of "smart people" who've signed on, and think that they know all about this scientific research. Knowledgeable people do not always perpetuate the truth. President Bush and Congress obviously have the final say on how our federal research dollars will be spent. The hope is that all who are participating in this debate are fully informed about the facts and are not swayed by celebrities who are unfortunately ill-informed or deliberately misled, but rather weigh both the scientific and the ethical evidence. There is a lot of misinformation and deception going on in the press accounts of the stem-cell debate. This is probably the worst problem in this whole debate, the perpetuation (innocent or not) of misleading statements which obscure many of the real facts. The Nobel Laureate letter itself is a prime example of the "mixmaster" treatment of the facts. What is usually lacking from press reports are a few key "adjectives" that clarify the situation - defining whether the cells discussed are human or animal cells, and especially whether they are "embryonic" or "adult" stem cells. For example, the letter sent to President Bush says that "insulin-secreting cells have normalized blood glucose in diabetic mice." These experiments were done with ADULT stem cells from mice, NOT embryonic stem cells. In fact, there are as yet no reports of anyone being able to produce insulin-secreting cells from human embryonic stem cells, but human ADULT stem cells that secrete insulin HAVE been isolated. The letter promulgates the claim (made repeatedly in NIH documents) that adult stem cells do not have the same potential as embryonic stem cells, which in theory can form any tissue. But studies done with adult stem cells (studies which mirror the ones done with embryonic stem cells) DO show that adult stem cells have the capacity to form essentially any tissue.

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