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Jul 21, 2006 - 02:00 PM

New Life For Research... Or For Biotech Donors?

by John M. Simpson
The day after President Bush vetoed a bill to extend federally funded stem cell research, Arnold breathed new life into California's cash-strapped stem cell institute by ordering the state to lend it $150 million from the general fund.

He got kudos nationally and around the state for moving stem cell research forward in California and distancing himself from George W's brand of Republicanism. Overlooked was the fact that a major beneficiary of the move, the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, has donated $1.09 million to his committees.

The governor's order came as he attended two fundraisers with W's father, giving biotech and other interests more chances for special access. Sure, it's a good thing the stem cell institute executives won't have to go hat in hand begging for donations to keep operating, but Arnold's largess with the taxpayer's money came with no controls.

Without rules governing such things as ownership of discoveries and payback to the state firmly in place, the beneficiaries of the loan will be biotech and pharma, not the people of California who were promised the benefits of ground-breaking stem cell research.

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