Stem Cell Ethics Committee Agrees with Consumer Advocates & Closes “Donor” Loophole

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Los Angeles, CA — Agreeing with criticisms from consumer advocates who identified a major loophole in proposed ethics guidelines, the key stem cell institute committee designing the Prop 71 research guidelines has eliminated a provision that would have allowed researchers to avoid a prohibition against paying women who donate their eggs for research.

Controversy surrounding South Korean stem cell research has raised new concerns over the practice of paying women who donate eggs for research because such practices could endanger poor women who are coerced into potentially harmful medical procedures in exchange for money.

Prop 71 prohibits researchers from paying for egg donation. However, FTCR found a loophole in the draft rules that would have allowed stem cell researchers funded with Prop 71 money to use stem cell lines derived by others even if payment had been made. After the issue was raised by FTCR and other advocacy groups at its two-day meeting, the committee voted to close the loophole, barring use by Prop 71 researchers of any stem cell lines where payment was made.

“The rules contained a major loophole that allowed researchers to avoid ethics guidelines simply by obtaining stem cell lines from another researcher even if those researchers engaged in the potential harmful practice of paying women who donate their eggs for research,” said John M. Simpson, Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights Stem Cell Project Director. “This loophole is just the latest example of why public oversight and control of Prop 71 research is so important. This case is a good example that when the public speaks out, policymakers can listen.”

After hearing from FTCR and other consumer advocates, the standards working group voted to hold all researchers to the same standard ‘ that donors not be paid ‘ no matter if stem cells are derived by Prop 71 researchers or others. Proposition 71 provides that donors will not be paid, although they may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses.

The committee voted unanimously to send the research guidelines to the full stem cell oversight committee. Those regulations, as well as critical rules that will govern who will control the ownership of any Prop 71-funded discoveries, will be considered at the stem cell oversight committee’s next meeting Feb. 10 at Stanford.

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FTCR is California’s leading nonprofit and nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us online at:

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