Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ACT's Bioethics Adviser Fails to Slip Off the Non Credibility Hook

I am told that Ronald Green is now saying he was misquoted when the Washington Post quoted him as stating about Advanced Cell Technology's embryonic stem cell non-breakthrough, "You can honestly say this cell line is from an embryo that was in no way harmed or destroyed."

I very much doubt it, since the reporter was Rick Weiss, who is very pro ESCR but also a good journalist. Besides, take a gander at this statement issued over Green's signature, which brags that oversight over the experiment was provided by the company's ethics advisory board and then describes the experiment as obtaining ES cells from single cells taken from still-viable embryos:

"The researchers then developed a method of producing stem cell lines by extracting and biopsying single cells (blastomeres) from these embryos. This technique, which leaves the embryos developmentally viable, offers a promising new way of ethically deriving human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines for research and clinical therapies. It also offers an approach that could overcome the legal and political barriers that have severely limited federal funding for hESC research." (My emphasis.)

And then there's this little bit of deceptive prose:"Right now, many stem cell lines for research and clinical use can ethically be derived from embryos undergoing PGD [pre-implantation genetic diagnosis]. Because a cell must be taken from these embryos for the testing procedure, the use of these cells to develop a stem cell line presents no additional risk to the embryo. Many people will regard this as an ethically acceptable way of deriving new stem cell lines that are urgently needed for research.

"Research on stem cells derived in this manner may also be suitable for federal funding. Current U.S. law prohibits funding for 'research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death . . .' Since the procedure of single cell blastomere biopsy does not itself harm or destroy embryos, there is reason to believe that informed legal opinion will permit the use of stem cells derived in this way." (Emphasis added.)

Gee, it sure seems that ACT's ethics advisory board is telling the world that the company derived embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, when its researchers did no such thing--just like Green's "misquote."

Keep digging ACT representatives. You are just getting ACT and yourselves into an ever-deepening credibility hole.


At September 06, 2006 , Blogger NancyB said...

You are obsessed with being a voice of "NO REASON" in your attacks on Advanced Cell Technology's brilliant scientific team. You are so obvious that you are like an attack dog without any clear judgement. Nature is the most prestigous scientific journal in the world. This work was very carefully scrutinized before published. The science stands strong and you are only loosing your credibility by continuing as you are!

At September 06, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Well, they may be a brilliant team, but they materially misstated what their experiment actually demonstrated. As a consequence, their credibility is in tatters.

What I am obsessed about is honesty in this debate. I am also obsessed with integrity in scientific discourse. ACT has displayed none of these in their many exaggerated press releases that later on turned out to not pan out.

And the odd thing is that the actual science paper was not deceptive. ACT's experiment actually demonstrated something concrete, as I wrote in my Weekly Standard piece. But it was not a spectacular breakthrough and such incremental advances in science don't make the front pages. And that apparently wasn't good enough for the leadership of the company.

Nature has now admitted that the experiment was materially misrepresented. Moreover, you have not stated one thing I got wrong about the facts of this fiasco. Indeed, I suspect you are upset because I have the facts about their deception correct.

Thanks for writing.

At September 06, 2006 , Blogger said...

If you're obsessed, then so is Glenn McGee:

I just love it when the opponent makes my point for me. McGee, with a few tangents and a lot of name calling, outlines everything wrong with the "ethical embryonic stem cell" saga, except the possibility that some of those "vesicles" may have been embryos.

At September 07, 2006 , Blogger Don Nelson said...


I'm not buying your attack on Wesley, especially when you claim to be "a very proud shareholder in ACT" at your blog, copied below.

I have much more reason to be suspicious of you being an attack dog for ACT than Wesley being an attack dog since you have a financial interest in that misleading press release. Your sagging stock quadrupled within 24 hours of the announcement. It plummeted when Wesley figured out it was a sham.

A note of warning to your friends at ACT. Those of us who speak to the media for our causes and organizations know that if you live by the media you can most certainly die by the media. They'll go along with you for a while if it fits their worldview/hopes and assumptions-especially on something like ESCR. BUT, if you make them look bad and jeopardize their reputation, don't be surprised if they don't turn on you with a vengeance, even if they embrace your cause like ESCR. They won't let you up again. Then it's over. Who can blame them. You ain't seen nothin' yet. I'd call my broker instead of railing at Wes.

Here's a copy of Nancy's post to her site.

Don Nelson

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Stem Cell Research

As a very proud shareholder of ACT I want to say that Dr. Lanza was NOT trying to grow babies but rather stem cell lines. That's why he did not let the embryo continue on. The point was the science was the next step utilizing PGD to create stem cell lines. The Nature paper is accurate and real. Unfortunately, between scientific jealousy and extremists trying to shut down ALL science having to do with embryos these slanderous voices including yours are getting their voices heard because the media is enjoying the controversy of you sensationalizing and out right LYING about the great breakthrough done by the Lanza team...

At September 07, 2006 , Blogger bmmg39 said...

I'm not buying your attack on Wesley, especially when you claim to be 'a very proud shareholder in ACT' at your blog, copied below."


At September 07, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Nice catch, Don. When Nancy writes, "I want to say that Dr. Lanza was NOT trying to grow babies but rather stem cell lines. That's why he did not let the embryo continue on," this is a false depection of what happened. Lanza and his team destroyed the embryos in order to get as many of the blastomeres inside for use in this experiment. There was never an intent to use only one cell in this experiment, only an intent to pretend they did in the media.


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