All the common misconceptions about stem cell research have reared their ugly heads in an ongoing dispute in Minnesota that pits businesses against a so-called anti-cloning proposal that we thought had died an ignominious demise when we last skewered it. But no, it’s alive! And it’s even being advanced in the state Legislature as part of an omnibus education bill.
While its proponents, a group calling itself “Minnesota Citizens Concerned About Life” (MCCL), purportedly introduced it to prevent reproductive cloning, one of its stipulations is a ban on any research that involves the destruction of embryos. Yet Minnesotans involved in the medical device industry — Minnesota is known for such innovative companies — assert that the overly vague and broad nature of the research ban will have a chilling effect on entrepreneurs seeking to invest in businesses in the state. Several warned that passing this bill would result in the departure of leading scientists and research-oriented companies to states with more innovation-friendly regulatory policies.
Perhaps the most egregious misunderstanding of the issue is voiced by Republican Senator Michelle Fischbach, who is also the author of the bill. Sen. Fischbach said that the legislation would prohibit human somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which she wrongfully asserted is a technology used to make embryos, not stem cells. “The proposed human cloning ban only addresses the initial creation of embryos, not stem cells or research with stem cells,” she insisted. However, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross believes Sen. Fischbach’s grasp of the issue is distorted at best: “She’s confusing SCNT with actual cloning,” says Dr. Ross. As we’ve explained in our previous coverage of the Minnesota confusion, SCNT is not human cloning but is a method used to create stem cells from a person’s own DNA without using embryos or even embryonic cells.
ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom said, “Let’s hope they finally drive a stake through this misguided bill’s heart!”