Scientists continue to criticize Bush’s decision to limit federally-funded stem cell research to a small number of existing cell colonies. Calling the policy “scientifically nave,” biomedical experts are now questioning whether the 60 supposed cell colonies even exist at all.
On Friday, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, one of the largest scientific bodies in the country, called upon the White House to release information about the cell colonies, as concern mounts that the quantity and quality of the lines is drastically lower than President Bush stated. Scientific literature identifies approximately 12 cell colonies currently in existence, and investigative work by reporters has located only 23 such colonies. Many scientists are concerned that existing colonies will not prove racially or genetically diverse enough to yield results beneficial to the larger, general population. In addition, many cell colonies may not have received adequate consent from donors, barring them from receiving federal research dollars.
Requests from legislators and news organizations to defend the quantity and quality of the cell colonies have been ignored by the White House thus far. “The burden of proof is on anyone who doubts” the claim, said White House Spokesperson, Ari Fleischer.