US President Obama will announce on Monday a reversal of Bush administration limits on federal financing for embryonic stem cell research as part of a pledge to separate science and politics,White House officials said on Friday.
As a presidential candidate,Obama spoke out in favour of stem cell research,so his intention to undo the curbs put in place by George W Bush is not surprising. But the decision is of great interest,involving a long-controversial intersection of science and moral beliefs.
The officials said that advocates of unfettered stem cell research,as well as about 30 Democratic and Republican lawmakers who support it,have been invited to a White House ceremony where 0the President is expected to make an announcement.
A source said the President would also speak about a general return to sound science in his administration,as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to draw a demarcation line between politics and science. The Bush administration was often accused of trying to shade,or even suppress,the findings of Government scientists on climate change,sex education,contraceptives and other issues,as well as stem cells.
Obamas announcement is not likely to lead to any immediate change in Government policy,since it may take many months for the National Institutes of Health to develop new guidelines for research.
Because embryonic stem cells are capable of developing into any type of cell in the body,many scientists believe that they may one day be able to provide tissues to replace worn-out organs or non-functioning cells,and thus offer powerful new treatments for diabetes,heart disease,Parkinsons disease and other ailments. Some researchers say that the stem cells might even be used someday to treat catastrophic injuries like damage to the spinal cord.
But many people have a moral problem with embryonic stem-cell research,because creation of the cells entails destruction of human embryos.