Consumer Group Protests Secret Meeting Involving Representatives of 10 State Stem Cell Programs
Santa Monica, CA — The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), today sent a letter to the president and the executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences protesting that the public was barred from a meeting of representatives of state public stem cell research programs at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in Irvine, CA.
John M. Simpson, of FTCR, a nonprofit, consumer advocacy group, arrived late in the day intending to attend Wednesday’s final session. As the meeting reconvened after a break, Fran Sharples, National Academy of Sciences Board on Life Sciences Director, told him it was a “private meeting of the National Academy of Sciences” and he had to leave.
“Frankly the process smacks of the paternalistic ‘trust-us-we-know-best’ attitude too often displayed by a self-perpetuating bureaucracy supposedly acting in the interest of science,” wrote Simpson, FTCR’s stem cell project director. “In fact such an attitude is a disservice to both the public and scientists.”
The two-day meeting of representatives from 10 state stem cell programs is intended to create the Interstate Alliance for Stem Cell Research. The meeting was an outgrowth of a similar session in Connecticut in March. Among the goals of the California meeting were creating opportunities for collaboration among different states’ stem cell programs and harmonizing regulations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“When the public is shut of the process, we can only wonder what is being done behind closed doors,” wrote Simpson. “For instance, in the quest to ‘harmonize’ regulations between states will only the lowest common denominator in regulations be adopted?”
Any meetings of representatives of public agencies held under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences need to be open to the public, Simpson said.
“As I told Ms. Sharples, I was flabbergasted,” said Simpson, “particularly when I had been invited to the original meeting in Connecticut, but was unable to attend because of other commitments. What could possibly be going on in secret in Irvine that I wasn’t allowed to witness?”
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