US lawmakers discuss stem cell research

US lawmakers debated embryonic stem cell research Tuesday in the aftermath of fabricated experiments in South Korea. Rep. Mark Souder, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice and drug policy, said he was disturbed by reports that women in South Korea were paid to donate their eggs for the fraudulent research. He said no human clinical trials or therapeutic applications using human embryonic stem cells currently exist. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, said that "opponents of embryonic stem cell research seem to have difficulty containing their glee" over the case of disgraced cloning researcher Hwang Woo-suk, who is now under investigation for fraudulent claims of human stem cell breakthroughs. Cummings said instead of using the controversy as "a justification to impede the search for important new knowledge," lawmakers ensure that future research in America and elsewhere has strict government guidelines and oversight. Dr. James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health stem cell task force, said that while the South Korean fraud was unacceptable, "it does not reflect on the potential of human embryonic stem cell research one way or the other."