The war propaganda myth of adult versus embryonic stem cells hurts everyone

warIf someone is not in a war, but someone else declares war on them or actually attacks them, I would say the reality is that war has started and there are two opposing sides.

However, has that happened when it comes to stem cells?

Are we in a stem cell war?

There have been times I thought the answer was certainly “yes”.

I’ve been personally, verbally attacked by opponents of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) on numerous occasions as have many other scientists and patient advocates. The opponents of ESCR like to call scientists working on ESCR “baby killers” and are going to great lengths to stop ESCR including suing the federal government.

In fact, the opponents of ESCR have many times declared war on us in no uncertain terms. They call it a “culture war”.

One of their favorite tools in this manufactured “war” is the myth that somehow adult and embryonic stem cells are also in some kind of war or at least on opposite sides. You can almost imagine the anthropomorphism going on by these folks imaging ESC in the trenches like Nazis on one side and adult stem cells as the good guy allies on the other.

The reality is that this is all a myth and a harmful one.

In fact, what the stem cell field collectively wants is to help people and to have the best tools fully vetted and approved to help patients. Those best tools may sometimes be one kind of stem cell and sometimes might be another kind of stem cell, but honestly the exact nature of the stem cell is not something that I care about.

The opponents of ESCR have lost all perspective because for them it is a war. For them helping people, even with adult stem cells, comes second to hurting ESCR. For them living, breathing people are simply not as important as microscopic embryos or even a one-celled fertilized egg.

Every good thing that they can report about adult stem cells they view as a blow to ESCR to the point that they actually manufacture good news about adult stem cells solely for the purpose of, at least in their narrow minds, hurting ESCR. If you read some of their posts, they have completely lost sight of the goal of helping people. They also view anything remotely “good news”-like about ESCR as (A) false, (B) harmful, and (C) to be discredited.

I almost wonder if ESCR cured blindness, let’s say via ACT’s work, if the adult stem cell propagandists would somehow find a way to present that as bad news.

We are left with a puzzle as we consider how to react to people who have declared war on us and who attack us verbally.

Is there war or not?  Even if there isn’t, I find it impossible to let propaganda stand unchallenged.

However we proceed, an important goal is to keep a tight grip on our mission of using stem cells, a diversity of stem cells, to help people.

5 Comments


  1. Coming from the adult stem cell side, I have witnessed no war between the valid research communities and in fact they embrace what each other have to offer. What I do see is unconscionable interloping by desperate religious zealots looking for their next political football to punt at the expense of mankind. It would be wise, and it is time, for both communities to collaborate in a joint effort to expose this to the public, putting a stop to it. The true enemy in this is ignorance and those that exploit it.


  2. I find myself wondering if there is now a war between shareholders and the management of Geron one of the two companies I invested in to support HESC. When the company placed a 100 million dollar secondary to support the Stem Cell programs made posibble by the Stock price spike caused by the Stem Cell program I was ok with it as a shareholder. When Geron let Tom Okarma go I was ok with it as long as they continued down the path of developement. Shareholders suffered through the period of having rotten coperate governance post Dr Okarma having a CEO and CFO being the same person. The company handed out raises like candy and awarded shares that were imediately sold plunging the Share price on insider selling. The company brought on a new CEO who imediately refused to talk to Shareholders on his first CC and only said we are doing an audit of programs. Forty five days after his arival our new CEO said we are discontinuing our HESC programs and will no longer fund them. We will focus on Cancer. The New CEO should have put this to the Shareholders he still has not addressed any shareholder’s questions. Dr John Scarlett has even commented to analysts that the majority of the shareholders 69% of them now are retail investors who want the company to fund HESC. He said he cares less about that he will do what he wants. Why would you become the head of the largest HESC company if you wanted to kill the programs? Dr. Scarlett waited until after he plunged the share price to buy shares in the company. In May John Scarlett has to face questions from Shareholders in the virtual shareholder meeting and face the vote of 67% the new current percentage of retail investors. How do you give away tons in bonuses if you can not afford to fund HESC? Shareholders can vote Dr Scarlett off the BOD and then have him removed in May as it seems there is a war on shareholder’s declared by management all over HESC. I invested in Geron because I believed in the future of all the Science Geron was advancing now I feel like I have to go to war to defend that science voting my shares. Geron had live Shareholder meetings in Menlo Park until 2011 now it is over the net to insulate themselves from shareholders. Geron dropped Vac2 the dendridic cell cancer vaccine because it was HESC based even though the UK had aproved funding for phase 1 cancer trials.


  3. I agree with everything you have said. We need a white knight to come in and challenge the management at the May vote to get control from the company but what are the odds of that? Why couldn’t the company apply for grants from the NIH to complete the stem cell trials? The paralyzed patients have to cost the government billions each year. If any of the phase I stem cell patients are showing any further progress they owe it to others in the same position to report the progress if the company can’t or won’t.


  4. @ Taylor and Bayne…you’re both right …makes you wonder what type of people are entrusted with medical technologies that can transform healthcare for the entire world…and yet the potential solution may pose a problem to those very same vested people. It’s always about the money. The money needed to carry out gern trials is a pittance. Why aren’t the patient populations in an uproar?


  5. Attacks paid for by big business are ‘driving science into a dark era’

    Researchers attending one of the world’s major academic conferences ‘are scared to death of the anti-science lobby’

    Oreskes is co-author, with Erik Conway, of Merchants of Doubt, an investigation into the links between corporate business interests and campaigns in the US aimed at blocking the introduction of environmental and medical measures such as bans on smoking and the use of DDT, laws to limit acid rain, legislation to end the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere and attempts to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

    In each case, legislation was delayed by years, sometimes decades, thanks to the activities of a variety of foundations – such as the Heartland Institute – which are backed by energy companies such as Exxon and billionaires like Charles Koch.

    “Our present crisis over the rise of anti-science has been coming for a long time and we should have seen it coming,” adds Oreskes.

    This point was backed by Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), although she added that one specific event had brought matters to a head this year: the decision by the United States supreme court to overrule the law that allowed the federal government to place limits on independent spending for political purposes by business corporations.

    Her remarks are backed by a UCS report, Heads They Win, Tails We Lose: How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public’s Expense, which was published at the Vancouver meeting on Friday. It chronicles the methods used by corporate businesses to attack their targets: harassing individual scientists, ghost-writing scientific articles to raise doubts about government research, and undermining the use of science to form government policy.

    “People may believe that political interference in science went extinct when George W. Bush left office, but the reality is that the pressure to politicise science is still with us,” added Grifo.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/19/science-scepticism-usdomesticpolicy

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