Testimony from Michael J. Werner, Esq.
Vice President, Bioethics
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
In Support of New Jersey Senate Bill 1909
Senate Health, Human Service & Senior Citizens Committee
November 4, 2002
Please accept this testimony on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in support of Senate Bill 1909, legislation to encourage human stem cell research in the State of New Jersey.
BIO is the national trade organization representing more than 1100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 states and 33 nations. Our members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. In New Jersey, we work closely with the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey (BCNJ) and the growing number of biomedical and biotechnology companies in the state.
Medical research has taken quantum leaps in the past decade. Scientists are identifying and developing innovative cures to deadly and debilitating diseases. According the National Institutes of Health and the National Academies of Science, human embryonic stem (HES) cells have shown incredible promise toward developing breakthrough treatments for a variety of intractable diseases including various cancers, kidney disease, diabetes, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease and many other diseases. Scientists already have demonstrated that growth factors can direct the development of human embryonic cells into, for example, insulin-producing cells that might help cure type-1 diabetes.
Senate Bill 1909 will spur this research through a specific authorization. It will also help facilitate the voluntary donation of excess fertilized eggs for stem cell research. Specifically, it will require that individuals receiving infertility treatments be provided with information on disposition of their excess fertilized eggs, including the possibility of donation for research. Importantly, the bill would require institutional review board approval of stem cell research and as an added safeguard would prohibit the sale of donated eggs.
Senate Bill 1909 also protects the right of scientists to use somatic cell nuclear transfer technology for the derivation of HES cells. This innovative process may some day improve treatments, minimizing the risk of rejection of new cells and tissue because it uses an individual's own cells to treat specific diseases.
BIO and BCNJ are committed to the socially responsible use of biotechnology to save or improve lives. We recognize that there are moral and ethical concerns surrounding human embryonic stem cell research. However, this bill strikes an appropriate balance by encouraging potentially life saving research to advance under a carefully constructed regulatory scheme. Senate Bill 1909 will ensure that researchers in New Jersey can employ this valuable technology.
In addition, BIO encourages the state to provide funding for stem cell research. Researchers around the country have noted that a lack of resources has impeded their progress in this promising field.
New Jersey's position as a center of excellence for biotechnology research is beyond the reach of many states. However, there are states that are aggressively pursuing legislation to attract biotechnology companies. California, the state with the largest biotechnology industry presence in the country, recognized the promise of this technology and recently enacted legislation similar to Senate Bill 1909. Passage of this legislation in New Jersey, will further cement the state's reputation as a preeminent world leader in biomedicine and biotechnology.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of this important legislation. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Werner at (202) 962-9200 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Respectfully Submitted by
Michael J. Werner, Esq.
Vice President, Bioethics
Biotechnology Industry Organization
1225 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 962-9518 direct
(202) 962-9201 fax