Friday, December 23, 2005

Stem Cell Fiasco

This week's story regarding the revelation that renowned South Korean geneticist Woo Suk Hwang falsified data in recent stem cell research has sent shockwaves through the global scientific community. The revelation is, of course, problematic for Hwang's credibility (in that he now has none) and research on the subject (which is now completely suspect and will likely be reviewed), but what will likely go unasked are the following questions pertaining to stem cell research generally:

- Is stem cell research the guarantee that it is claimed to be by its supporters at home and abroad?

- Is this latest revelation about doctored (no pun intended) research problematic for a scientific movement that purports to have had so many successes?

- Does the fact that one of the field's most successful researchers had actually not produced the results he claimed to have produced raise doubts about the scientific community's nearness to cures for genetic diseases?

These questions need to be asked, particularly in light of the close relationship between stem cell research and the advocacy for what is essentially embryo farming.

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