[extropy-chat] tissue of lies

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Feb 11 01:01:38 UTC 2004


10 February 2004

Stupidity in the new age of anti-science

Gillian Bowditich

SOME 3.7 million people claim to have been abducted by aliens.
Only 11 per cent of Americans believe in evolution. Type "Flat
Earth Society" into the Google search engine on the internet and
you will have a choice of 466,000 sites. How did we get this


The latest example of this is the Human Tissues Bill currently
going through Parliament. This bill is the government=92s response
to the organ retention outcry at Royal Liverpool Children=92s
Hospital in Alder Hey five years ago. If it becomes law, the use
for research purposes of tissue samples, blood and even urine
specimens, without specific patient consent, will be illegal.
The penalty for a doctor flouting that law will be up to three
years in jail.

According to Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, two of
the biggest and best respected medical research organisations in
the world, this bill could stifle advances in childhood
leukaemia, cancer, SARS and AIDS. Already ten research projects
on rare tumours in children have either folded or failed to
start because of the difficulties in carrying out this kind of
scientific research in the current hysterical climate. Mark
Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, believes that if this
bill were effective now, the work that led to the discovery of
genes responsible for the most common inherited form of breast
cancer might not be possible. It could even be a criminal
offence to try. The Royal College of Pathologists is extremely
concerned about the situation and even the Medical Research
Council, the government-funded organisation, has serious doubts
about the bill.

So the government is rethinking this shoddily drafted piece of
legislation which is likely to clog the system with yet more
bureaucracy, restrict vital research and unwittingly criminalise
doctors? Wrong. The government is pressing ahead. It is doing so
because it is more worried about determined pressure groups
which will resort to emotional blackmail than it is about
stifling vital medical research.


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