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Sen. Mark Herring, Dr. John Lazo Make the Case for Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Virginia

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I just got off a conference call with Virginia’s next Attorney General, Senator Mark Herring, and University of Virginia scientist, Dr. John Lazo, in which they talked about the critical importance of supporting embryonic stem cell research in Virginia – to save lives, to grow our state’s economy, and to keep Virginia competitive. A few key points by Mark Herring included:

*Virginia’s research community should be allowed to use all types of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells.

*Embryonic stem cells are critical not just to developing technologies to help find cures to diseases, but also to encourage companies and innovators to locate here in Virginia.

*”It’s a shame that the Republican ticket would put their own personal ideologies ahead of these types of job-creating proposals.”

*For instance, in 2009, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain were “two of just five Senators to vote against a bill I sponsored that would direct more funds towards key areas of research and development and commercialization all because there wasn’t a clause that prohibited funds to go to research that used embryonic stem cells.

*”This is another way that Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain have put their personal ideologies ahead of what’s best for our communities and our economy.”

*The Democratic ticket will “support research that will make Virginia a global leader in R&D and make it easier for our scientists to bring their technologies to market.”

Dr. John Lazo added:

*Lazo’s work is focused on stem cells to find “new approaches to combat diseases like Alzheimers, cancer, and also to create drugs or substances that could be used to protect populations against an accidental or even an intentional exposure to radiation that might occur through a terrorist use of a dirty bomb for example.”

*”This work is really critical to protecting our health and public safety, and stem cells represent a central, critical part of developing these new technologies here in Virginia…you can’t be competitive nationally or internationally in this field if you don’t embrace this really revolutionary tool to investigate both drugs and biology.”

*”Our leaders in Richmond need to do everything they can to encourage this enabling technology, and that includes all kinds of stem cell research including…embryonic stem cells.”

*”Not being able to use embryonic stem cells for research is like trying to run in lead sneakers; our competitors…have been really advancing the use of it…so this becomes a real liability…really restricts our research.”

*”If our leaders want to keep Virginia as a leader  in research and innovation, they really need to support this type of research.”

I couldn’t agree more; this is a no brainer, frankly. Sad to say, the Republican #ExtremeTeam of Ken Cuccinelli and his clones (Mark Obenshain and EW Jackson) not only don’t support this crucial research, they actually favor a theocratic “personhood” amendment which would effectively outlaw embryonic stem cell research. That, in turn, would kill Virginia’s competitiveness with other states and countries in this burgeoning field, and thus be a major mistake in terms of jobs and the economy. Not that extreme ideologues like Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain care about such mundane things as jobs and the economy (and saving adult lives, as opposed to blastocysts that would, as Michael J. Fox points out in the video above, be thrown out anyway), but the rest of us sure do!