bill could cost millions in future research
(Week of April 30, 2002)
APRIL 26, 2002 - - The state's research universities
are gravely concerned about House changes to a bill that would ban
While a Senate-passed version of the bill strictly
banned clones of humans, a reworded version in the House appears
to restrict future research severely at universities - - so much
so that universities say they could lose millions of dollars in
research funding and scores of talented researchers to other states.
Sources say the House version, loaded with "right-to-life"
language and impacts, essentially would prohibit human genetic and
stem-cell research - - both of which promise to hold future cures
and treatments for all sorts of crippling diseases, from Alzheimer's
to Parkinson's. The House version apparently won't have a direct
impact on current funding, but would hamstring researchers from
future genetic projects.
While the House version says it will not restrict
all research, here's the clause that appears to be troubling (emphasis
"Nothing in subsection (B) restricts
areas of scientific research not specifically prohibited by this
section, including research in the use of nuclear transfer or
other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other
than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other
than humans or human-animal chimera."
In other words, the provision could restrict, among
other things, research to grow replacement organs and tissues from
But proponents of the measure say the House version
of the bill only would restrict using human embryos in research.
Researchers couldn't, for example, create a human embryo, use some
cells from it and then destroy it. Using human cells to produce
new tissues or organs would not be affected, supporters say.
If the House language is part of any final legislation,
universities say the impact could be dramatic: the end to millions
of future dollars in federal research grants and the transfer of
brilliant researchers out of the state. With the loss of those minds
and research, the state would lose a valuable training ground for
South Carolina students and the potential for millions of dollars
of money to be injected into the economy from industries that spin-off
The bill, modified this week by the Judiciary Committee,
remains on the House calendar, but may pass the House floor in coming
weeks. Because the original bill was a Senate bill, the proposal
would go to a conference committee if the Senate did not concur.