No decision on stem cells

US President's Council on Bioethics takes no position in 400-page report

Eugene Russo(erusso@the-scientist.com)
Jan 15, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC—The President's Council on Bioethics released its first report on stem cell research at a meeting here yesterday (January 15). But unlike one of its noteworthy predecessors, the new report, Monitoring Stem Cell Research, made no recommendations and took no particular ethical or policy position.

Instead, the 400-page-plus report, which includes four chapters and several appendices, summarizes the most recent developments in stem cell science, outlines the ethical issues surrounding stem cells—in particular embryonic stem cells—and provides an overview of the current federal policy.

Responding to a query by one puzzled audience member, Council Chair Leon R. Kass said that the council declined to make specific recommendations because the stem cell research field is young, and the president's policy and its implementation are even younger. In August 2001, President Bush announced that under his policy, only the approximately 60-plus stem cell lines that already existed would be...