Public Funding for Stem Cell Research: Boon or Boondoggle?

Washington, D.C.,September 4, 2008—Debates over the ethics of research using human embryonic stem cells continue long after the Bush Administration’s ban on federal tax-funding for such research. But, a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute calls into question whether, ethics aside, stem cell research is even a sensible expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Governmentstem cell research programs, such as California’sProposition 71, are bureaucratic, wasteful, and mired in political controversy,argue Sigrid Fry-Revere, J.D., Ph.D., and Molly Elgin, authors of Public Stem Cell Research Funding: Boon orBoondoggle?  And, becausestem cell research is inherently speculative and politically controversial, thepublic would be best served if governments left it to the private sector.

“This is not a question of whether the research should be conducted, but whether public funding for it is justified,” said Fry-Revere. “It is impossible to know how successful this research will be or whether any individual projects will produce genuine medical treatments, and it is not the place of government to gamble with taxpayers’ money.”

The report documents how biotechnology companies, philanthropic organizations, andindividuals have already invested billions of dollars in various lines of stem cell research while debates over public funding continue unabated. “There is little risk that stem cell research will go unfunded,” said Elgin. “But, the politicized nature ofgovernment funding will mean more delays to the already lengthy research process and will make financial returns on taxpayer dollars even more doubtful.”

Read the report, Public Stem Cell Research Funding:Boon or Boondoggle? 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisanpublic policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website at