[EDITORIALS]Don't Ignore Stem Cell ResearchGeorge W. Bush, the president of the United States, said he would allow taxpayer money to be used for research into stem cells taken from human embryos. The research would be limited to existing frozen embryos that are about to be discarded. However, allowing the research is a radical change from the complete ban on stem cell research that Mr. Bush promised a year ago.
Currently, Germany is the only nation in the world that bans experiments to obtain stem cells by melting a frozen embryo about to be discarded. Laws in Great Britain and Japan permit research on stem cells and embryo cloning.
The magazine Science, based in United States, forecast that the market size for new technology related to the human embryo including stem cell, would be about 100 trillion won ($77 billion). The U.S. magazine Business Week reported that among the top-50 corporations listed on the U.S. stock exchange, nine pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer were included. The leading U.S. biotechnology company Amgen ranked 51st with an aggregate value of 100 trillion won. However, human rights of patients suffering from an incurable disease are more important than economic gains.
Research on stem cells or cloning of human embryos may be a lifesaver for patients whose days are numbered due to a shortage in organ donors. A limitless number of human organs can be produced through stem cells of the human embryo.
However, there is severe opposition that says it is not right to destroy the embryo that is the seed of life, for the gains of the living. Although Great Britain and Japan have permitted human embryo cloning, we still have to build a social consensus on whether or not to allow research on embryo cloning at this point. But stem cell research does not have to do with artificial manipulation of the living embryo. Until the end of August, the Korean government will provide legislation to stipulate the range of permissible biotechnology research. We are asking the government to concentrate its efforts not only in permitting stem cell research but also in supporting the research.
The world is changing at a dizzying speed and Korea cannot avoid stem cell research.