May 24, 2024

“Bulletproof” Proposition 71 surprises voters

After endorsing a US$3 billion bond issue for stem cell research, California is beginning to realise that the institute coordinating the research will have no outside oversight and has been “bulletproofed” against meddling by politicians. Lawyers crafted the initiative to ensure on-going funding and to protect it from the possibility of a Federal ban on embryo reseach. As a result, the California legislature has no say in how the money will be spent while the governing committee has maximum flexibility in its mission of seeking cures. The legislature cannot modify the law for three years and even then it will need a 70 per cent majority and the governor’s approval.

In fact, the institute does not even have to spend the money on stem cell research if it thinks that other avenues will be more fruitful. Its standards for ethical safeguards in research are also different, although the architect of the initiative, Palo Alto property developer Robert Klein, says that it will observe the highest ethical standards.