In Support of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Debate Rounds (3)
To start this off, I believe that stem cell research should be supported by every nation in the world, regardless of opinion (1), because the potential social and economic benefits of the many that could be saved far outweigh the detriments of loss of life or limited funding.
Social benefits of stem cell research:
* the development of new treatments to cure people from various diseases
* it increases the general quality of life, this leading to a healthier workforce
* it would strengthen the position of each nation as a global asset, especially the US.
Economic benefits associated with stem cell research:
* it helps create more jobs in the research field
* it has the potential to cure many diseases, which will get those afflicted back in the work force.
* if stem cell research received more funding from the federal level, more labs around the country will be able to study stem cells and will need to hire new personnel for the new tasks and this would create more jobs in the research field.
Stem cells are noted for having the potential to heal diseases and illnesses and save lives. For example, in leukemia patients, high-dose chemotherapy is the most effective currently established method to kill leukemic cells and can cure some patients. However, it also severely damages the remaining normal blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. To replace these cells, patients are given a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). The cells for the transplant can be collected from the blood or bone marrow of a healthy donor. In fact, the transplant includes not only HSCs, but also important immune cells that help to kill leukemic cells. A patient"s own cells can sometimes be used for the transplant, if it is possible to collect enough healthy cells before the treatment is performed. If a different donor is needed, they must match the patient"s tissue type otherwise the transplanted donor cells will be attacked by the patient"s immune system and rejected.
HSCTs are particularly effective for treating certain types of acute leukemia. However, the procedure is intensive and risky with the potential for substantial after effects. Therefore, this type of stem cell transplant is only considered when standard-dose chemotherapy fails to eradicate the disease. (2)
For Parkinson's disease, it's been shown that embryonic stem cells (ES cells) could offer an alternative source of new cells for Parkinson"s patients, thus slowing down or even possibly reversing the effects of the disease. Methods such as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which enables the nucleus of adult cells to be reprogrammed to express the properties of embryonic stem cells, and harvesting blastocysts created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics. The opposition to such research involving both kinds of ES cells - those from blastocysts created by in vitro fertilization clinics and those derived through SCNT - is largely based on the belief that blastocysts should be treated as human beings because they have the potential to develop into a person. Those, like me, who disagree argue that personhood is not conferred until much later in the process - for example, after the blastocyst has become implanted in the uterine wall, or after pregnancy has developed to the stage at which the fetus has viability independent of the womb. (3)
As far as type I diabetes, those with the disease are deficient in insulin and have high blood sugar levels because they lack insulin-producing beta cells. Therefore, if beta cells can be successfully produced from stem cells, they could be transplanted into diabetic patients as a treatment and potential cure. As the stem cells are made from the patient's own skin cells, they would all match the patient's DNA. (4)
Studying stem cells will help us understand how they transform into the dazzling array of specialized cells that make us what we are. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to problems that occur somewhere in this process. A better understanding of normal cell development will allow us to understand and perhaps correct the errors that cause these medical conditions. (5)(6)
In closing, I have pointed out how stem cell research has the possibility of positively impacting society. While I will admit that there are drawbacks and risks involved, I strongly believe in the phrase "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to at least support stem cell research. Once the position is taken that one is against stem cell research, then that means that one is not accepting of progress. Again, to my opponent, thanks for accepting this debate. I await your response.
I would begin by stressing caution on embryonic stem cell research given that there is a significant moral and ethical dilemmas that bear consideration, there are further problematic implications in suggesting the taxpayer must subsidize this research, and despite extravagant claims of miracles cures, it has yet to yield any cures while obscuring more promising and proven results from adult stem cells or many other various types of research.
1 - Adult (Somatic) Stem Cell Cures & Treatments
Patients need actual cures as opposed to false hope. Adult stem cells are used in treatment and clinical trials with respect to: brain cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, testicular cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, breast cancer, and many other cancers. They are used to treat type 1 Juvenile diabetes, myasthenia, Crohn's disease, and several other auto-immune disorders.Other treatments and trials exist for chronic coronary artery disease, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, liver cirrhosis, and other diseases. It shows much more promise.
2 - Problems with Embryonic Stem Cell Research
There are no cures and perhaps one clinical trial with respect to embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells have been demonstrated in multiple experiments that they are too carcinogenic for therapy or they form teratomas (monster tumors). The next problem involves the body's immune system attacking the foreign cells requiring potential patients of any such therapy derived from it to take dangerous immune suppressing drugs and the recent "fix" was researches genetically engineered the cells to produce immune suppressing molecules, but this makes them invisible to the immune system rendering the body unable to reject cancerous cells and the problem of infection. The ethical problems arise from the misconception that cells are derived from a "fertilized egg," which is only one cell and this requires a human embryo and it's destruction to derive the necessary cells. Also, the data shows no stable, functioning islet cells from embryonic stems cells in animals.
3 - Ethical Alternatives
Adult stem cells have the ability to differentiate into cell types from different germ layers and this is called stem cell plasiticty providing the ability to take on new functions, which demonstrates their potential to be pluripotent. Scientists are also working on Altered Nuclear Transfer to produce pluripotent stem cells without the creation and destruction of embryos.
4 - Politicization of Scientific Inquiry
When politics enters the stage, we see how a reasonable line of scientific inquiry was transformed into public relations campaign that makes extraordinary promises without the science being anywhere close to it, politicans and organizations dedicated to abortion piggyback the issue due to the destruction of human embryos that would be necessary as a means of promoting abortion, and scientific research is better served by steering clear of politics, public opinion, lobbying, and the other corrupting influences it invites such as the patenting of embryonic stem cell lines with $70,000 to $200,000 licensing fees while the patent holders lobby for more government funding.
5 - Federal Funding & Supposed Economic Benefits
There is absolutely no barrier in this country to donating and giving your money for the purpose of scientific research. You are free to earmark all the money you wish to funding the research of your choice. There are philanthropic sources of funding, investment vehicles, and private equity markets where funding for research can be found, especially if the purported medical miracle wonderland lived up to the hype. Government funding invites politicians to arbitrarily decide who the winners and losers are despite any actual results at the expense of other people's money and leads to the creation of entrenched lobbyists making wild promises no matter how far-fetched. It becomes wasteful and inefficiently spent. Government spending also removes money from the private sector limiting the capital available and having a harmful effect on economic growth. Economics has always dealt with the problem of scarcity of resources and when the government wastefully and inefficiently squanders those resources, there are fewer resources available elsewhere for more promising fields of research with actual results.
6 - Miscellaneous Issues
My opponent, forgive me for pointing this out, but HSCT was an example of adult stem cell research. Also, my opponent as a resident of California ought to know that the state spends $3 billion a year on embryonic stem cell research despite bad fiscal problems. It should be noted also that the National Debt has exceeded 100% of GDP and we have a monumental debt problem in terms of the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs compounded by the fact that the federal government runs huge budget deficits each year and the more money printed by the federal reserve to allow this spending increasingly drives up inflation and we risk the inflation of another economic bubble that will cause another economic catastrophe. We cannot ignore many other areas of scientific inquiry that could treat and/or cure diseases as we could develop with breakthroughs in nanotechnology.
7 - Conclusion
I see embryonic stem cell research as a legitimate line of inquiry, but I see grossly exaggerated claims that if possible would be many decades away, the politicization of the issue for political ends, the denial of the actual treatments found with adult stem cells, and I do not see government funding as a benefit to either the research, the society at large, or the economy. I think people could easily support the research of their choice with their own checkbook or through social media efforts like the ice bucket challenge (even though you don't have to dump ice water on your head to give money). I'm not against research so much as I see clear alternatives and realize the future and medical research have a vast array of avenues to cures and this is only one inquiry.
1 - In his rebuttal, it is mentioned that adult stem cells would show much more promise than embryonic stem cells. While I can appreciate this to an extent, it should also be known that the term "adult stem cells" is often used very broadly and may include fetal and cord blood stem cells (1), which I would think would be just as much of a moral and ethical dilemma for those that choose to look at it from an ideological and/or religious perspective. Also, adult stem cells are generally less flexible and versatile than embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells have a far greater differentiation potential than adult stem cells simply because embryonic stem cells can develop into almost every type of cell in the human body. Conversely, adult stem cells may only develop into a limited number of cell types, so their potential applications are not as great as embryonic stem cells. Newer studies do, however, suggest that adult stem cells may have greater plasticity than was originally thought, which means that they may be able to differentiate into a greater range of specialized cell types. At present, however, it would appear that embryonic stem cells still have the advantage in their ability to differentiate more readily than adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are capable of almost unlimited division, or proliferation, when placed in a culture whereas adult stem cells do not multiply so readily. Stem cell replacement therapies require large numbers of cells and the current difficulty in growing large numbers of adult cells means that their use for therapy at present is limited (4).
* It's also been pointed out that HSCT was an example of adult stem cell research, which is a valid point and one that I accept. Since I've done further research regarding this method (2)(3), I will rule that point that I made as invalid.
2 - The next argument Con makes is for the ethics of the matter, in which I say it's irrelevant. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research compare the destruction of an embryo to an abortion. They believe that the embryo constitutes life because it has the potential to fully develop into a human being. Those against embryonic stem cell use believe that is it immoral and unethical to destroy one life to save another. By using stem cells and discarding the embryo, it is thought that human life is ultimately de-valued by this act and is paving a slippery slope for further scientific procedures that similarly de-value life. In particular, many religious groups who are adamantly pro-life have condemned embryonic stem cell research and all of its applications. Other arguments against embryonic stem cells cite the fact that adult stem cells are the ones currently being used in therapies and thus, there is no need to even venture into embryonic stem cell territory. I say that if the toss up is between adult stem cells, (which are more likely to have abnormalities from DNA mutations, which can occur due to any number of factors) and embryonic stem cells (whose "youth" means that they are less likely to carry mutations and they also regenerate much more quickly than adult stem cells), I'll take the latter, as it shows an overwhelmingly higher potential to treat disease (4). As a supporter of embryonic stem cell research, I believe that an embryo is not equivalent to human life because it is inside the womb. Embryonic stem cells are blank cells that have not yet been categorized or programmed by the body, and can be prompted to generate any of the 220 human cell types. Supporters also contend that the societal costs of many diseases and conditions, both in monetary and suffering aspects, means that the ethical concerns regarding embryonic stem cell usage are not sufficient to warrant discontinuation of this promising therapy. Another argument for embryonic stem cell research is that the embryos are leftover from in-vitro fertilization and would otherwise be destroyed, so they should instead be put to greater use. Even further down the line in development is the belief that those embryos from legal abortions, which have already been destroyed, would be better used to advance human health rather than simply discarded.
3 - Finally, the Con is against government funding for embryonic stem cell research. If stem cell research were federally funded, the government would have the ability to establish clear regulations and guidelines about the use of the money. Therefore, the government can more easily enforce ethical research practices. Gov can require that researchers comply to regulations in order to receive the funding and can monitor the practices. For example, the a government agency can ensure that all embryos are obtained with consent from in vitro fertilization clinics and that no embryos are sold for a profit. These practices are harder to monitor if money is gained from private funding and the government is not directly involved. In addition, with the plethora of often contradictory laws surrounding stem cell research, the government can eradicate the moral and legal gray area in which embryonic stem cell researchers are trapped. The laws for stem cell research are very confusing and vary greatly between states. For example, according to the American Center for Progress, ""until November 2008, when voters amended the state constitution, it was illegal in Michigan to derive embryonic stem cells because the state constitution banned the destruction of embryos for research. As a result, researchers at Michigan"s large and prestigious state universities had to import cells from out of state" (5). Federal funding would streamline the legal aspect of embryonic stem cell research and help eliminate the unnecessary bureaucracy on both state and federal levels. Hopefully states with restrictions or bans on research would remove them when presented with the opportunity to receive financial support from the federal government (5). The science aspect of stem cells is already complex and difficult enough without the added nuisances created by the current laws. Promising researchers are reluctant to invest time and resources into studying stem cells if there is the possibility it could become illegal and they had to discontinue their work because it would involve wasted time and money. Federal funding gives researchers the money necessary to carry out tests while simultaneously creating an incentive to scientists to pursue the study of stem cells. Moreover, the researchers would have a sense of security knowing they are not actively breaking the law in the name of science. With this research we could save millions. If anything, however, I do think that we should have a budget on how much our government should be allowed to spend on these health care advancements.
In closing, I have shown how embryonic stem cell research ultimately does more good than harm. As we can logically see the most obvious explanation is that embryonic stem cell research is a venture to be explored in earnest. I have shown and demonstrated this with factual evidence throughout this debate. Thank you for your time.
2. As for the destruction of embryos, also at stake is the dilemma of growing and destroying them to harvest them for cells to use in experiments. Like the pro-abortion defense, the argument always reverts to dehumanization, given that every single one of us underwent precisely the same stages of development. My opponent raises the objection that adult stem cells have the potential for DNA mutations, but this has been observed in embryonic stem cell experiments, which as my opponent mentioned, are capable of indefinite division and they build up mutations as they undergo these constant divisions. I have already pointed out my opponent neglects the high probability of them being cancerous as well as being reject by the immune system. At any rate, I reject the dichotomy and I'm not voting other than to offer my views based on what is currently known.
3. Those regulations and guidelines can just as easily be enforced without forcing taxpayers to subsidize research. It is quite damning that for all the hype about the miracle wonders possible with embryonic stem cell research, advocates demand corporate welfare to subsidize the research as opposed to voluntarily funding it it through donations. If President Obama can have $30,000 a plate fundraisers in Hollywood, why can't the same be done for embryonic stem cell research? Researchers are always reluctant to put up their own money when they can make a great living, compared to average American, and ask for a handout from the government. My opponent neglected to tackle the fact that our national debt is in excess of 100% of GDP, the massive unfunded liabilities of entitlements, huge annual budget deficits, or the fact our Government actually borrow $8 trillion annually. The problem of economic scarcity, unlimited needs and wants versus finite resources and capital, which means the government is pulling out our capital and consuming a greater and greater share of the resources. You also create an entrenched lobby that will make extravagant promises while producing nothing, which is where embryonic stem cell research is despite all the money. Politicians and bureaucrats are the worst people to make determinations, especially when you yourself say it is complex. The market is a superior force to the government; it only drives up cost, inefficiently spends, and ultimately wastes money at the expense of other research fields.
I would close by thanking my opponent for the debate and urge caution given that it remains to be seen whether embryonic stem cell research will do any good and so far has done no good.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Overall, I would say the contender did a better job of presenting why alternative options would be better served to develop. Source point awarded for the adult/embryonic negation.
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