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US genetic policy panel forms

Composition draws criticism for conservative stances on embryonic stem cell research

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

Today marks the launch of a new panel on genetics and social policy created by the Bush administration during a reorganization of the science advisory system that critics say is being transformed into a showcase of conservative causes in which science takes a back seat to religious ideology.

Appointees to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society include Republican analyst and health lobbyist Cindi Berry, a former speechwriter for Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), the Senate majority leader. Also on the panel is C. Christopher Hook, director of ethics education at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. A founding member of Do No Harm, The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics, Hook is active in Christian medical groups and has testified before Congress that embryonic stem cell research amounts to a "license to kill."

"I believe that embryonic stem cell research is unethical and unnecessary from the...

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