Stem cell research is a comparatively new technology that takes primitive human cells and grows them into any of the 220 varieties of cells in the human body, including blood cells and brain cells. Some scientists and researchers have great wish for stem cell research and its capability to reveal treatments and possibly even cures for some of the nastiest diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Together with these encouraging possibilities, stem cell research causes fears of human cloning and serious concerns over the morals of conducting scientific research on, which contains the destruction of, human embryos.
Government funding for embryonic stem cell research is full of unfilled pledges. The federal government first attempted to fund it in 2000, when the Clinton management gave the NIH its blessings to seek funding proposals. When George W. Bush took office, however, he restricted funding to research on existing stem lines and none of the funds Clinton sanctioned were distributed.
With federal funding unsure, efforts to lobby states for research funds started in 2001. To date, only five states have promised to allot funds to embryonic stem cell research. In 2004, New Jersey approved a state budget that included $5.5 million for stem cell research, and Californians granted a $3 billion bond measure to fund research over 10 years. In 2005, Connecticut put aside $100 million, Illinois $10 million, and, in 2006, Maryland sanctioned $15 million.
By 2007, few of these promised funds had in fact made it to researchers. It takes time and money to set up the various government boards, panels, and institutes that will be accountable for giving funds, and, in some cases, money has been spent on building research services and educational programs planned to educate future stem cell researchers.
Government funding isn’t profitable when funds that could be spent on research are spent on lobbying, political disorder over the matter of funding leads to limitations on all research, money is thrown at enormously high-risk but low-yield projects, and efforts are wasted on attaining close to valueless information.
Private industrialists and charitable organizations who are critically trying to solve a particular scientific problem have too much at risk to make frolicsome decisions. They are far more likely to show sensitivity and carefulness in determining what research to support. Some quarrel that research and development is so costly and unsafe that important research would go undone without government support. It’s logical that researchers are attracted by the view of easy money from government sources, but as the evidence shows, getting government funding is not worth the attempt. Only private funding lets researchers do what they require to and leads to trustworthy results.