Here is a fine critique of Harvard's decision to fund embryonic stem cell research, entitled Harvard's stem cell misstep http://www.mercatornet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=310
Some key points from the article:
MercatorNet: How soon could human embryonic stem cells be used for cures? Harvard is telling potential donors to its stem cell institute that "in as little as a decade" there will be treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes. It also suggests that the names of many incurable diseases will be eliminated from our grandchildren's vocabularies. Are these predictions realistic?
Sherley: The question "How soon," is pre-empted by the question: "Could human embryonic stem cells ever be used for cures?" When the errant biological properties of human embryonic stem cells are considered, it is difficult to foresee them ever being used directly as cures in children or adults. This promise was the earliest misleading misinformation from proponents of human embryo research. Because many factors that guide the normal development of embryonic cells are absent in mature tissues, embryonic stem cells placed in adult tissues produce malformed tissues that are cancerous. So, figuring out how to use human embryonic stem cells directly by transplantation into patients is tantamount to solving the cancer problem.
By studying embryonic stem cells derived from human embryos cloned from the cells of individuals with particular chronic diseases, Harvard scientists claim that they will obtain new knowledge about how chronic human diseases develop. It is amazing that such words come out of the mouths of noted developmental biologists who have known for years that simple embryonic stem cell culture is an inadequate model for human development.
MercatorNet: You seem pretty convinced that human embryos are human beings. Can you explain briefly why?
Sherley: My answer is, "What else could they be -- aliens?" Scientists who want to conduct experiments with human embryos are quick to say what human embryos are not. I challenge them to tell the public what human embryos are. There is only one answer to this question, "living human beings."