Monday, May 11, 2009

Consequences of state stem cell policies

Salon.com has an interesting article on some of the economic and political ramifications of President Obama's decision to overturn Bush's stem cell funding policy. Bush's decision, you may recall, disallowed federal funding for research involving "new lines" of embryonic stem cells. I suspect this policy already had some of the same kinds of economic and political consequences the article talks about, since it meant that researchers ought to have gravitated towards individual states that funded such research. As the Salon.com article points out, there is now, of course, even more money at stake, so researchers have even stronger pressure to move to states that have more progressive policies. The anticipated results?
Several states have set aside billions of dollars to support stem cell research, and the new federal money Obama is promising will generally flow to those areas. That means states supporting stem cell research will experience an economic windfall while attracting highly educated technology workers who tend to vote Democratic. The more conservative states restricting stem cell research will attract fewer funds and fewer socially liberal voters. In short, a state's stem cell policy will influence electoral results and help determine whether a state turns red or blue.
One commenter aptly remarked that the process would "give a whole new meaning to the 'Left Behind' series." I'm curious to see how this will actually play out. The dynamic between economics and morality (or "morality") is always fascinating.

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