Although not the main issue for me in the last election, the issue of stem cells was undoubtedly an important one for many people. A few of my doctor friends who I talked to after the election said that the reason that they did not vote for Bush, although they agree with many of his foreign policies, was because of his position on embryonic stem cell research. Regardless of whether the Bush Administration's position was falsely portrayed by the Democrats, government funding of research is always problematic. The true measure of the worth of a technology seems to me to be the level of private investment and interest. Clearly if a Pfizer or Merck thought that research would lead to something as lucrative as the Democrats made stem cells to be, they would invest hugely in it.
In the past few months there have been some stunning breakthroughs in treatment using stem cells. But as this article
shows, much of this has been ignored by the media because it has to do with stem cells from adults and from umbilical cord blood, and not from embryonic stem cells.
Much research remains to be done in adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell therapies before we can confidently predict ultimate success. But if less newsy stories involving embryonic stem cells are worthy of enthusiastic coverage, surely the more hopeful and advanced breakthroughs, albeit no sure things, warrant at least equivalent levels of media interest. Perhaps if the media stopped taking sides in the ongoing political debates over biotechnology, a more balanced picture would emerge.