In response to Nick Hemenway’s article in Tuesday’s Collegian: There are several reasons why adult stem cell research is more advanced than embryonic research, none of which support the idea that we should abandon it.
Adult stem cell research has been ongoing for 40+ years. Compared to the relatively new field of embryonic research (c. 1998), it’s obvious that several decades have given adult stem cell research an advantage in realizing benefits. Furthermore, breakthroughs in adult stem cell applications such as bone marrow transplantation took many years, if not decades, to be realized.
Secondly, adult stem cell research has not been the subject of extreme scrutiny as has embryonic research. This scrutiny is warranted, as there is a legitimate moral and ethical debate to be had about embryonic research, but the absence of federal support for this field puts it at a distinct disadvantage.
Finally, if the “profit-driven free market” were the answer to this problem, why does our government fund anything? The answer is that there is certain fundamental research that is necessary for the advancement of science, but that doesn’t yield a tangible short-term profit. Or, it requires substantial financial risk – the type of risk a “profit-driven” business does not want to take.
Adult stem cell research may indeed yield better results in the long run, but that outcome certainly isn’t guaranteed. Conveniently hiding certain aspects of the issue and failing to evaluate it in a fair manner are in no way helpful.