Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama: Stem Cells Linked to Scientific Integrity

President Obama will sign an executive order Monday lifting limits on human embryonic stem cell research and will direct federal agencies to "restore scientific integrity" to decision-making, White House aides said Sunday.

Obama's order follows years of wrangling over stem cells and scientific decision-making in the Bush administration.

"Public policy must be guided by sound scientific advice," said Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, discussing the order and memorandum Sunday.

Melody Barnes of Obama's Domestic Policy Council added that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will set standards for federal science advisers, insulating them from political interference.

The executive order will reverse President George W. Bush's 2001 decision to withhold federal support of research on newly collected colonies of embryonic stem cells, the master cells from which all tissues are formed. Bush, who opposed the destruction of embryos necessary to harvest the cells, limited research funding to 21 stem cell colonies, or lines, already in existence.

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