AAAS urges US President to sign Embryonic Stem Cell Act

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific organization, tonight urged U.S. President George W. Bush to uphold the U.S. Senate's approval of H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

"We in the scientific community are hopeful that you will review this measure with an open mind and open heart and then sign it into law," AAAS leadership wrote in the letter to President Bush.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would expand federal support for embryonic stem cell research, passed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 63 to 37 four votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. The President has stated that he would veto the measure, but AAAS called on him to reconsider, noting that "embryonic stem cell research is an extremely promising approach to developing more effective treatments for devastating conditions like diabetes, spinal cord, injuries, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases."

Human blastocysts, or very early-stage human embryos, "appear by far to hold the greatest therapeutic promise" for advancing stem-cell research, AAAS officials wrote. While acknowledging the President's objections to creating and then destroying embryos explicitly for the purpose of deriving stem cells for research, AAAS Chairman of the Board Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., and Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., noted that some 400,000 embryos, left over from in vitro fertilization techniques, would otherwise be discarded.

Further, Omenn and Leshner added, "H.R. 810 would enable the Federal government to exercise a higher level of regulation and ethical oversight over human embryonic stem cell research than it can now."

In closing, AAAS officials wrote: "We see H.R. 810 as an affirmation of life, and of the potential of scientific and medical research to improve the human condition. We are gratified to sta

Contact: Ginger Pinholster
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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