09/06/2005 12:35 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

101 on the Stem Cell Debate

As Congress returns from summer recess, there will be several bills on the floor that could change the direction of stem cell research is the U.S. This is bound to turn up the heat on our national discussion of stem cell research, a discussion that seems to orbit further out of control with each passing week.

I’m appalled by how basic tenets of science are thrown out the window in the increasingly incendiary rhetoric of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research. Even more appalling is the threat posed to the most hopeful area of scientific research since Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Human embryonic stem cell research promises to create patient-specific therapies using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) -- a vital technique that could derive healthy cells to replace those ravaged by over 70 diseases affecting millions of Americans.

Here's what it is not: human reproductive cloning. The state of California outlawed that nearly ten years ago and there is no reason for our federal government not to do the same. Period.

We are not talking about creating Dollies, Snuppies, or Designer Babies: we are talking about scientific research aimed toward therapies.

Congress should follow California's example -- one that Senators Feinstein and Hatch offer in their bill (S. 1520) -- and outlaw human reproductive cloning, while preserving the right to pursue this invaluable research governed by tight ethical guidelines.

Please check out a recent op-ed from the San Francisco Chronicle that Ed Penhoet and I co-authored.