Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush is good for Stem-cell research   posted by Scorpius @ 10/03/2005 03:27:00 AM

Ronald Bailey, in an article over at reason, points out one unintentional consequence of Bush's funding restrictions:

The National Institutes of Health spent $24.3 million dollars on human embryonic stem-cell research last year. Critics of President Bush's policy of limiting federal funding to only those stem-cell lines derived before August 2001 worry that this amount—relative to NIH's annual $30 billion budget—is not enough. Persuaded of the importance of this research, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in May to lift President Bush's funding restrictions. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced this summer that he supported that legislation. The Senate is poised to vote on the issue later this fall.

But do stem-cell researchers really need the feds? Already there is nearly $4 billion in private and state monies committed to stem-cell research over the next decade, with another three-quarters of a billion dollars under active consideration.

I find it amazing and heartening that the non-Federal sector has stepped up and committed 16.4 times that what the Feds have (assuming $243 million over a decade from NIH) and makes me wonder what other areas might be better served by a switch to non-NIH funds for some areas.

Look, I'm no utopian Libertarian, I know there are areas of research (and specific parts of some general areas) which won't be funded privately because they don't show any promise of profit anytime soon. And I know that a lot of this funding comes from other government bodies ; but I think there are areas that now suckle off of Uncle Sam's breast who need to be kicked out of the Treasury nest and find their own funding. This would free up a lot of cash for more "pure" research projects, and advance our nation's general knowledge of science.

Just my thoughts.