October 2, 2005

I HAVEN’T READ CHRIS MOONEY’S BOOK, The Republican War on Science, but I suspect that he makes a lot of points that — given my longstanding problems with the Bush Administration’s positions on cloning, etc., and the Kass Council — I probably agree with.

On the other hand, Virginia Postrel takes a different position:

U.S. scientists and their supporters tend to assume biomedical research is threatened by know-nothings on religious crusades. But as the Canadian law illustrates, the long-term threat to genetic research comes less from the religious right than from the secular left. Canada’s law forbids all sorts of genetic manipulations, many of them currently theoretical. It’s a crime, for instance, to alter inheritable genes.

And the law has provisions the fabled religious right never even talks about. It’s a crime to pay a surrogate mother or to make or accept payment for arranging a surrogate. It’s a crime to pay egg or sperm donors anything more than “receipted expenses,” like taxi fares. Since eggs are used not just in fertility treatments but in research, this prohibition stifles both.

Meanwhile, in backward, intolerant America objections to embryonic stem-cell research and therapeutic cloning are less politically persuasive than they were a few years ago. With the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Congress is close to a veto-proof majority to expand federal subsidies for embryonic stem-cell research. Many conservative leaders are uncomfortable opposing potentially lifesaving research.

Read the whole thing. The problem, alas, is that there are lots of anti-science types on both ends of the political spectrum.

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