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Embryonic Stem Cell Measure Draws Big Bucks in Michigan

posted by nsymmonds

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) The hottest campaign in Michigan this fall features no candidate, but an embryo.
In the fight over Proposal 2, advocates and opponents are spending millions to shape voter opinion on a proposal to loosen current restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in the state.
In West Michigan, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos has given $200,000 to fight the proposal to free up state funds for the research, according to recent campaign finance statements.
Meanwhile, Pete Wege, the retired Steelcase executive, pitched in with $100,000 to Cure Michigan, the committee trying to pass the Nov. 4 ballot issue to expand the research.
Records show more than $7.5 million had been spent statewide through Oct. 19 promoting or attacking the proposed amendment. Most of the cash raised by the two sides is funding weeks of statewide television advertising. In the absence of a bare-fisted fight for president or U.S.
Senate in Michigan, the Proposal 2 campaign is the most contentious statewide political battle of the season.
Michigan is one of three states that bar the destruction of a human embryo for laboratory research purposes. That restricts research in Michigan to stem cell lines created before August 2001 that qualify for federal funding, or to stem cell lines derived from embryos in other states.
Proposal 2 would change that. The proposed amendment to Michigan’s constitution would allow federally regulated research on otherwise discarded Michigan embryos created through in-vitro fertilization and donated by the person receiving the fertility treatment.
Proponents argue current state law chills important biomedical research in a state that has committed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in the past 10 years to build a burgeoning life sciences research industry.
The amendment would specifically bar state and local laws that “discourage” such research and allow any embryo research permitted by federal law to be conducted in Michigan, as is the case in 47 other states.
By Ted Roelofs and Peter Luke
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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posted October 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

I hope the proposal passes and stem cell research can continue more freely in the state of Michigan.

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posted October 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm

So is the opinion of Richard Devoss worth 200,000 times as much as that of someone who can spare a dollar to try to get some disease cured? I don’t think so but he has 200,000 times as much influence.

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Mary Hamilton

posted October 29, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Prop 2 would ‘prohibit state and local laws’ that might simply ‘discourage’ stem cell research.
Even ‘patient safety’ applies only ‘to the extent it does not … discourage any stem cell research’.
With the conversion rate of frozen embryos to stem cell lines only 2%, Michigan could expect about 10 new stem cell lines over the next decade.
But, ‘in a decade (human embryonic stem cells) will be a funny historical footnote’ according James Thomson – the man who first isolated them.
“Embryonic stem cells cannot be used directly in therapy because they cause cancer” according to Scientific American. No where are they in clinical trails.
But other stem cells are in or preparing for clinical trials after excellent animal results for diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, paralysis, ALS, and more. It’s only 8 wks. from patient’s stem cell to new bladder – today, in people … and complete hearts are made and tried in animals from whom the stem cells came.
Furthermore, the safe and efficient development of induced pluripotent stem cells provide better opportunities for disease study, drug testing and stem cell therapies – from a single strand of patient’s hair.
Prop 2 pretends to help researchers with disease, but just gives big biz and snakeoil salesmen free rein to exploit Michigan’s citizens. Supporters are ignorant of the proposition and the science.
Visit for videos and clinical trials of what Prop 2 proponents are hiding in order to profit from people’s pain.

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posted October 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I am sure the Universitities have a great deal of interest in this issue. They stand to gain a lot if the leash on stem cell research is loosened. As the Michigan schools are able to increase their research, the rest of the nation and the world can only benefit. Tying this whole field of research and development into thelogical knots serves no one.

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posted October 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

It isn’t necessarily about who will benefit; rather it is how and where we’re stocking investment dollars and research efforts into. Are we going to stake our chips into research proven to be fruitful, or empty promises that never produce results? The theology card is played by those unwilling or unable to conform their opinions to empirical evidence.

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posted November 9, 2008 at 2:02 pm

No one will read this I expect since today is Nov.9, but just in case they do. The proposition passed so it has opened up the way for Michigan to do more research on embryonic stem cells …for the betterment of us all!!.

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