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    Stem Cells And Tea: Really?
    By Paul Knoepfler | September 14th 2011 07:21 PM | 7 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Paul

    Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine. Long-time stem cell and cancer scientist. Cancer survivor...

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    I confess. 

    I am not a big fan of tea. 

    I really want to like tea for some reason, perhaps its health benefits.

    I have attended my daughters' imaginary tea parties.

    I have even had tea at the world famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., Canada and enjoyed the food very much...but not so much the tea.

    I just don't like the flavor with the exception of green tea.

    Given my feelings about tea, perhaps it is then no surprise that I am even more lacking in fondness for The Tea Party that sort of newish kind of political extremist group that is like an ever-growing questionable mole on the keister of the Republican Party here in America. The Republicans just seemingly can't escape from The Tea Party, but as anyone can see it is very bad for them. An excision is in order and would greatly increase the chances of the Republicans unseating Obama in 2012, but annulling the shotgun marriage of the GOP and the Tea Party just doesn't seem to be in the tea leaves...err, cards.

    Wait, so what does tea or the Tea Party have to do with stem cells?

    The Tea Party wants to be known for its fiscally conservative nature, but it has some other baggage such as extremist anti-science ideas promoted by folks such as Bachmann. One of these is anti-embryonic stem cell litmus testing of Republican candidates that is an implicit part of their "pro-life pledge", who mostly fall in line. 

    If the Republicans had more of either backbone or common sense, they would dump the Tea Party and nominate someone like Jon Huntsman to be their candidate. Huntsman may have some positions that I am not that fond of (I discuss him from a scientist's point of view here), but the guy is smart, pro-science, relatively balanced, logical, and just plain normal. 

    Instead, at the top of the polling is Rick Perry, most well-known for executing more prisoners (likely some innocent) than anyone else and for getting an adult stem cell treatment about which there are some puzzling aspects.

    So the Republicans seem intent upon throwing away their great chance at having Congress and the Presidency. I'm happy about that.

    If Obama wins re-election in 2012, I may just have to drink a full cup of tea and maybe I'll even raise my pinky in tribute to the Tea Party and how they scuttled the GOP's chances and how that may very well help millions of people by preserving NIH, research in general, and stem cell research in particular.



    Comments

    Hank
     One of these is anti-embryonic stem cell litmus testing of Republican candidates, who mostly fall in line. 
    50 percent of Americans, Republications and Democrats alike, approve the use of therapeutic cloning - but the Obama administration bans it.  Are all Democrats, including you, anti-science or just Obama?  Will you refuse to vote for him because of his anti-science beliefs?

    If not, I can't see why anyone would bother to bring up hESC in 2011, much less contending there is a 'litmus test' for banning hESC among Republicans. I have yet to see that anywhere. Do you have a citation for that, or was this article left over from 2006?
    pknoepfler
    A few points in response. The 2012 Pro-Life Pledge includes being against hESC research. Very clear. Tons of pressure for the GOP candidates to sign it. See here: http://www.lifenews.com/2011/06/30/huntsman-takes-heat-for-not-signing-p... http://www.lifenews.com/2011/06/17/2012-gop-candidates-sign-pro-life-ple... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/huntsman-confirms-support-for-embryonic-... Also, I don't see Obama as anti-science. SCNT (aka therapeutic cloning) is not the only issue out there and there is significant divide amongst scientists about SCNT.
    Paul S. Knoepfler, Ph.D. Associate Professor UC Davis School of Medicine http://www.ipscell.com
    Hank
    The problem is you didn't actually read the pledge.  It does not mention hESC research at all, it is simply about abortion, which isn't getting overturned no matter who is president.

    If you see no issue with Obama's position against a 'controversial biology program' it simply means you were never voting for a Republican anyway.  Since you are not voting Republican under any circumstance, shouldn't you want a kook like Bachmann to get the nomination? That's about the only way Pres. Obama can get re-elected.   So the time to write political hit pieces against Republicans is after the nomination. If you eliminate the bad candidates now and leave Huntsman, he may win.  And a Utah governor is not going to be as left as you think he is.  His fans say he 'stood up to Mormons' but there was no way he was getting elected without their support.
    pknoepfler
    Hank, I think you are being too literal about the pledge.

    Much of what I have read indicates that hESC are in fact, practically speaking, part of the pledge for 2012.  From the crafters of the pledge's perspective, hESC are equivalent to abortion. They have in fact pressed the GOP candidates on their stances on hESC.

    In terms of the election, I think you have some very good points and you rightfully suggest being pragmatic about it if one is pro-Obama.
    Paul S. Knoepfler, Ph.D. Associate Professor UC Davis School of Medicine http://www.ipscell.com
    Hank
    Hank, I think you are being too literal about the pledge.
    Seriously, that is a defense for a scientist who just labeled 50% of America as tea party kooks without any data at all?   Don't read what it says, read what you want it to say?  Obama said vaccines caused autism in 2008, why was that okay?  His anti-science stances (including biology) and actions(editing science reports just like Bush did) are dismissed as meaningless but you choose to read between the lines and believe a Republican pledge on abortion applies to hESC research despite not a single candidate saying it.

    The problem is that there is no objectivity in any of this - this is not a defense of science or science credibility.  It would be fine, I'd be cheering, if 5 seconds of searching on the Internet did not invalidate this entire article.

    This does not help Democrats, shoddy conspiratorial claims with no foundation are what Rush Limbaugh listeners do.
    pknoepfler
    Geez, you are being rather extreme, aren't you?

    Who ever said anything about 50% of Americans being kooks?

    Who ever mentioned conspiracy?

    If you had done even a simple Google search for stem cells and tea party, you'd see I am right. Also search for embryonic stem cells and pro-life pledge.  And other permutations.

    The tea partiers and the pro-lifers both explicitly link ESC with the pro-life pledge and pro-life policies. That's a fact. Just two examples of many--

    See here:
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/jon-huntsmans-pro-life-record-marred-by-embryonic-stem-cell-research-suppor/

    AND here:

    http://teapartybase.com/2011/07/01/huntsman-confirms-support-for-embryonic-stem-cell-research-refuses-to-sign-pro-life-pledge/
    Paul S. Knoepfler, Ph.D. Associate Professor UC Davis School of Medicine http://www.ipscell.com
    Hank
    Who ever said anything about 50% of Americans being kooks?
    You did.  You wrote "If the Republicans had more of either backbone or common sense, they would dump the Tea Party and nominate someone like Jon Huntsman to be their candidate".  That's 50% of America have no backbone or common sense unless they agree to abandon people who signed a pledge that says nothing like what you claim it says.  It's your extremism, not mine.  It says what it says, not what you hope it says.

    What you are looking for (and finding) are third party claims by partisans that imply a pro-life pledge is the same as banning hESC research. I was surprised by your article because I assumed that issue had died so I searched and found nothing in that pledge says anything of the kind.  I'd never seen that document before, it is meaningless to be against abortion in 2011, but apparently you had never seen it either, despite writing an article condemning Republicans over it.

    It's like me linking to some third party site implying Democratic candidates support Animal Liberation Front kooks mail-bombing researchers and if they don't, it will have "a negative impact on" on their standing among progressives.   You want to believe this anti-hESC hysteria without any evidence and I am cool with that, that is what political people do, but it's disappointing that you believe hearsay as fact about Republicans and dismiss facts about a Democrat as unimportant.

    P.S. Not that it means anything, but G.W. Bush doubled NIH funding so your closing sentence about NIH being at risk if a Republican gets elected is another invention.  And no Republican in 40 years objected to 'stem cell research' - for a practicing biologist in that field to intentionally confuse stem cells and hESC research for the wide public is a surprise.