Saturday, March 14, 2009

Georgia Legislators Grab Pitchforks and Torches, Run Stem Cell Scientists out of State.

As I write this blog from the stem cell research center of the country, Madison, WI, I couldn't help but smile over the possible influx of new jobs heading our way after Georgia legislators put limits on and vilified the up and coming biomedical industry. It's part of their platform, and a strengthening of an "idiot ideology," aimed at the new extremist Republican Party. According to MSNBC:
In recent years, Gov. Sonny Perdue has sought to make Georgia a hub for the biotech and life sciences industry.
While at the same time, Perdue supports:
a push in the state Legislature to restrict embryonic stem cell research could put that economic development initiative in jeopardy. Critics (say) it would brand the state as anti-technology even as it's set to host the world's largest biotech conference this spring.
And this backward state incubator of Republican wedge issue politics is actually going to host the Biotechnology Industry Organizations BIO 2009 Annual International Convention, which could attract more than 20,000 professionals from 70 nations? This is just too sweet. Just the thought of science, in the Old South, is laughable. Not exactly a match made in heaven, so to speak.
"It's a huge black eye," said Charles Craig, president of Georgia Bio, which represents life sciences companies in the state. Perdue disputes that, arguing the state will still be able to recruit and keep cutting-edge science companies even as it adheres to a conservative moral code. "I can't in my conscience fathom that we would create human embryos to be used in scientific research," Perdue said.
Beautiful! I’m sure Sonny Perdue used his folksy southern drawl to show he’s just as much a stereotypical hick as can be imagined and admired by the anti-science troglodytes that support him.

Daniel Becker, president of the group Georgia Right to Life, praised the Senate measure as "a tremendous advance … Science is advancing at an exponential rate. It's outstripping our ability to provide ethical restraints. This does, in fact, draw the right type of business to Georgia, the kind that is ethical and sound."

The bill comes as the recession has Georgia shedding jobs at a record-breaking pace. (But) Georgia has seen a surge in bioscience jobs. Employment in the bioscience industry shot up 11 percent, compared with 2 percent average employment growth for all industries. 270 multinational and emerging bioscience companies call the state home. From 2001 to 2005, the number of companies in the bioscience industry grew by 38 percent. The jobs tend to pay well and have not been hit as hard by the economic downturn as sectors like manufacturing. The University of Georgia has spent millions of dollars on labs for renowned stem cell researcher Steve Stice.

Charles Craig asked, "What science company is going to want to come to Georgia after it has sent a signal that is trying to set limits on research that are far more restrictive than the federal government or other states?"

On Monday, President Barack Obama lifted the Bush-era ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The Georgia bill was hurried through committee that same day. Legislation approved by senators would ban new embryos for research in Georgia.

The bill was scaled back from an earlier version that would have outlawed the destruction of any fertilized embryo after companies complained it would create obstacles for women wanting to get pregnant by in vitro fertilization. It also bans therapeutic cloning, which supporters said holds promise for those who suffer from juvenile diabetes.

I think Craig said it best:
"If we pass this bill with the convention coming, that will just be an embarrassment."

In the past I've pleaded, I have prayed, that every red state would pass all the anti-science legislation and statewide voucher laws they could come up with. It would be the best "blue" state stimulous package ever put together, all without the lifting a finger.

1 comment:

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