- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said yesterday he fears both sides of the stem-cell debate will try to misuse the incendiary issue of cloning to further their cause in the Senate.
"I think as we write about it and talk about it, we can't casually intermingle these issues and make them one in the same. They're not," Mr. Daschle said yesterday.
"I strongly believe that this country ought to advance research and science utilizing embryonic stem cells," he said. "But I draw the distinction between that and a full-fledged willingness on the part of the country and the scientific community to use cloning as a method of research and scientific development."
However, Mr. Daschle said, given the open rules of debate in the Senate, "my guess is that as soon as you bring up the issue of stem-cell research, you're going to bring up all of the panoply of questions involving cloning as well I don't think that that can be avoided, especially in the Senate."
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in embryos and fetal material capable of becoming any type of cell produced in the body. Adults also have undifferentiated cells, but adult stem cells appear far less flexible in the types of cells they can become. Scientists believe research of both embryonic and adult stem-cell research could yield cures to diseases.
Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, opposes embryonic stem-cell research and has sponsored legislation that would ban cloning, but he agrees with Mr. Daschle. "My strong preference would be for them to be debated as separate issues," Mr. Brownback said yesterday afternoon.
While his opinions on the two issues are underpinned by a single belief in the sanctity in life, "the way [the two issues] come to us in government is quite different," Mr. Brownback said yesterday.
The question on embryonic stem-cell research is whether federal dollars should be used to fund procedures. Cloning of humans has not yet begun, and the question is whether to ban it, Mr. Brownback explained.
Still, if Mr. Daschle does not bring a bill to ban cloning to the Senate floor for debate, Mr. Brownback said he would offer such legislation as an amendment to a stem-cell bill when it does come to the floor.
On Tuesday, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that would ban cloning for any purpose. Mr. Brownback's version of that bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Opponents of the bill argued that while there should be a ban on trying to give birth to a cloned baby, scientists should be allowed to create cloned embryos to advance stem-cell research.
"At the intersection of these two fields — cloning technology and stem-cell research — may lie the creation of insulin-secreting cells for diabetics, nervous system tissue for spinal cord injury victims and a variety of other treatments for devastating illnesses, including Parkinson's disease, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and various cancers," said Biotechnology Industry Organization President Carl B. Feldbaum in a statement released during the House's debate.
Mr. Daschle initially blamed opponents of stem-cell research for muddying the waters, but when told of the tone and details of the House debate, he said: "I don't care whether you're a proponent or an opponent, I think you need to draw a pretty sharp line here between cloning and embryonic stem-cell research."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide