This week the genetic engineering of nonembryos has been all the buzz. That this procedure is a red herring is one issue. But more than that it seems President Bush is wearing the venerable flip flops on this one.
The procedure was actually born out of his own Presidential Council on Bioethics and when Republican Senators Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter co-sponsored a bill that would have allocated NIH funding to this type of research, he was all for it. In a press conference, on July 19 (the same day Bush vetoed the more significant stem cell bill), he had this to say after the Santorum-Specter bill didnt pass through the House:
"I'm disappointed that Congress failed to pass another bill that would have promoted good research...It would have authorized additional federal funding for promising new research that could produce cells with the abilities of embryonic cells, but without the destruction of human embryos. This is an important piece of legislation...I'm disappointed that the House failed to authorize funding for this vital and ethical research."
But this week a White House spokeswoman told the New York Times that
"The new procedure would not satisfy the objections of Mr. Bush Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical questions. This technique does not resolve those concerns."
So once the science shows progress beyond mice, Bush backs off and shows how much he really supports "promising new research."