Santa Monica, CA — The Interstate Alliance for Stem Cell Research should adopt a formal resolution committing to public meetings for all future sessions, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.
The Interstate Alliance, comprised of representatives of various state stem cell programs, is meeting today and Thursday at the British Consulate in Boston.
“While the Alliance is still in its early stages, it is critical to set the correct tone for the future,” wrote John M. Simpson, FTCR’s Stem cell project director, in a letter to the Alliance’s chair, Warren Wollschlager of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
FTCR noted that while the Boston meeting is open to the public, Simpson was ejected from an earlier session of the group in Irvine, CA by a representative of the National Academies of Science. NAS is coordinating Alliance meetings. Without a formal commitment to openness, FTCR said, public access could be thwarted by the whim of a future chair.
“I fully expect the Interstate Alliance will have a major influence on rules and regulations in all the states that are represented. That means it is imperative that the public have access to your deliberations and the ability to offer input and comments,” wrote Simpson. “Given the potentially contentious nature of publicly funded stem cell research, the need for the utmost transparency is even greater than would otherwise be the case.”
FTCR also urged the Alliance to create a working group to draft model regulations to ensure openness, transparency and accountability in the various state stem cell programs. Such a working group should go beyond members of the state stem cell agencies and include representatives of organizations committed to public access in government operations, FTCR said.
FTCR’s Stem Cell Oversight and Accountability Project is working to ensure that California’s landmark $6 billion stem cell research program offer accessible and affordable cures and treatments to the taxpayers who have funded it. Staff members of the state’s stem cell agency — California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — are participants in the Interstate Alliance.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org