Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The "invisible hand" at work...

In the latest on-line edition of the journal Stem Cells is an editorial announcing the pressing need to outline ethics for future trials of human embryonic stem cell derived therapies.
Increased funding and continued scientific progress have opened a new era in the ethics of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. These developments will reframe the ethical debate, which to date has focused on the moral status of the embryo and the acceptability of using embryos for research purposes. Although such philosophical questions have not been resolved, the issue is no longer if hESC research should proceed, but rather how it should proceed. The rapid pace of research makes it imperative to look ahead to the ethical issues generated by the expected use of hESC for transplantation.

And here we are witnessing the "invisible hand" of technology and scientific progress. Because it is possible, it becomes necessary. We haven't even determined if this is a race which should be run, and yet, because funding and research is racing ahead, we now have to decide how the race should be run.

I'd prefer to finish the first debate first. After all, what good are guidelines if the course of the race actually runs off a cliff?