Wesley Smith at his blog notes that the California Stem Cell Report, which will include public testimony to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will include scientists who were awarded lucrative grants by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), but no critics of the program. His source is a very critical Los Angeles Times article.
The critics of CIRM are not pro-life advocates who oppose embryonic stem cell research on principle. Instead critics include the Little Hoover Commission, which issued this blistering report of CIRM, and the Oakland-based Center for Genetics and Society. These organizations were afraid that there were too many conflicts of interest on the grant-awarding panel. In the words of the Little Hoover Commission:
CIRM’s 29-member oversight committee includes representatives from institutions that have benefitted from grants the committee approved. This structure, along with overly long terms and the inability to nominate its own leaders or hold them accountable, fuels concerns that the committee never can be entirely free of conflict of interest or self-dealing, notwithstanding a court ruling that established the legality of such a structure. Legal is not necessarily optimal, however, and litigation over this issue delayed CIRM from beginning its work. As long as the board remains in its present form, its structure will draw scrutiny, diverting CIRM resources.
No representatives from either of these critical institutions are on the witness list. Why aren’t members of the public allowed to address the IOM? According to the LA Times, the proprietor of the California Stem Cell Report, David Jensen, says he asked the IOM why no objective witnesses were on the hearing list, and an IOM public relations person directed him to a survey form members of the public could fill out (though the link for the form on the IOM’s website was dead when I checked it). Apparently, members of the public will also be permitted to address the IOM panel at Tuesday’s hearing. They’ll each get up to five minutes.
CIRM is selling the people of California a bill of goods. In 2014, CIRM will be back to the people of California with their hand out for more money. If the process is so objective, then what do they have to hide? 3 billion dollars later and little to show for it except for lots of dead human embryos. People will be more than a little miffed; and they should be.