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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
Stem cell compromise angers hardliners
Jim Maurer, who suffers from Parkinsons disease, watches President Bush deliver his address
Hope for Parkinson's sufferers, like this man
US President George W Bush's attempt at a compromise on stem cell research has angered hardliners on both sides of the debate.

Conservatives say any benefits derived from research on already dead embryos is morally wrong. Across the divide, many have criticised the very limited scope of research allowed under the president's funding plan.

What we believe is that the scientific community should set the standards

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
They say this will only delay the discovery of new cures for diseases which afflict tens of millions of Americans, and many more worldwide.

"What we believe is that the scientific community should set the standards," said Peter Van Etten, president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

"We are very concerned whether this is sufficient to do the work that needs to be done."

The technique used to create the stem cell lines did not respect the sanctity of life

Tom DeLay,
House majority whip
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops was as disappointed by President Bush's decision, but for entirely opposite reasons.

"The trade-off he has announced is morally unacceptable," said its president, Bishop Joseph A Fiorenza.

"Federal government, for the first time in its history, will support research that relies on the destruction of some defenceless human beings for the possible benefit to others."

Republican House Majority Whip Tom DeLay felt the same way. "The technique used to create the stem cell lines did not respect the sanctity of life," he said in a statement.


Those willing to listen, however, offered qualified support. Many are relieved that at least some research on embryonic stem cells can go ahead.

"President Bush's decision means that important stem cell research will move forward, giving hope to millions of people suffering from debilitating diseases and injuries," said Bill Frist, a senator from Mr Bush's Republican Party and himself a former surgeon.

human embryo
Centre of the debate: Human embryo
Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy said the decision was "an important step forward", but criticised the measure for not going far enough.

His was a view shared by Dr Diane Krause, a researcher at Yale University School of Medicine. "Well, at least they're allowing some federally funded work on human embryonic stem cells," she said.

"But it will be limited by its very nature of being a limited number of cell lines. What we can do with them will be limited."

But the fact that money will be forthcoming from taxpayers was welcomed in the scientific community.

"It was a very good, clear and balanced outcome," said Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents 1,000 biotech firms and 150 universities conducting stem cell research.

"The president's decision is a major step forward for patients."

Pro-lifers 'delighted'

The trade-off he has announced is morally unacceptable

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Others supported Mr Bush, but from the other side of the divide.

Notably, the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee was amongst those pleased at the limited nature of the research to be funded.

It said it was acceptable to benefit from already dead embryos - as long as no more were killed.

"We are delighted that President Bush's decision prevents the federal government from becoming a party to any further killing of human embryos for medical experimentation," said spokesman Laura Echevarria.

There was nothing the president could do to "restore the lives of those embryos who have already died", she said.

BBC's Washington Correspondent Nick Bryant
"The most painstaking decision of his presidency"
US President George W Bush
"Even the most noble ends do not justify any means"
Benjamin Rudolph, a biotechnologist with Aptagen
"The biotechnology community is really going to be mixed on this one"
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
What are stem cells?
10 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Bush's stem cell decision: Full text
10 Aug 01 | Business
Companies cheer Bush stem cell move
23 Jul 01 | Europe
Pope warns Bush on stem cells
12 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Row over made-to-order stem cells
17 Feb 01 | San Francisco
Stem cell hope for Parkinson's
07 Sep 00 | Festival of science
Stem cell injection for stroke on the way
19 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Stem cells promise liver repair
02 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Stem cells grown from dead bodies
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