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The Liberal War on Science
Should science be subservient to politicians? Yes, according to the Center for Genetics and Society (not to be confused with UCLA's Center for Society and Genetics).

In a critique of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the agency operating the state's new multi-billion dollar stem cell research program, CGS emphasized that politics, not science, should govern scientific research.

After the recent stem cell research debacle funded and promoted by the South Korean government, you might think that CIRM should keep their distance from politicians and be managed by independent, neutral experts. Wrong.

Despite the South Korean scandal, CGS wants CIRM to be subordinate to politicians. As CGS explains, "CIRM leadership should adopt and publicly affirm a policy of cooperation, rather than confrontation, with California's elected officials and legislators."

For those who think a major research program should be run by the best, brightest and most competent scientists and managers, CGS has a rebuke. The NGO states that "Hiring and personnel policies should be in line with those of other California state agencies. Diversity should be promoted as a core value of the CIRM...." CGS doesn't specify the sort of diversity they prize but apparently believes that it won't be achieved by focusing on anything as trivial as achievement.

After all, CGS doesn't want to risk a science program being managed by scientists. As the group explains, "Stem cell researchers have generated inflated expectations and resisted responsible oversight. We can't leave this important field to the scientists and biotech entrepreneurs now running the show."

Hmmm. Science is too important to be left to scientists. Now there's a thought. Science is also too important to be left to "entrepreneurs." Most reasonable in light of CGS' desire for political control of the program. After all, who could be more ethical than a politician?

CGS' preference for interest group politics over accomplishment is evident in their views on intellectual property policy. Instead of supporting intellectual property policies that would spur scientific developments and financial returns, "...CIRM should involve a diverse range of public-interest stakeholders, including advocates for low-income Californians, supporters of intellectual property rights reform, and representatives of state government."

Winston knows that stem cell research is a controversial field. He also has qualms about a state government investing billions of taxpayer dollars in an area that should be the province of academia and industry. However, if there is going to be such a program, it should be run according to the highest research standards, not the deeply politicized and self-defeating war on science that CGS is promoting.


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