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Buono Floor Statement on Stem Cell Research Funding Bond Act

TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, sponsor of S-2913, which would place a public question on the November 2006 ballot asking the public to approve $350 million in bonds to support stem cell research grants, made the following remarks today on the floor of the Senate:

“Today we have the opportunity to create a legacy for New Jersey of hope and compassion for those who we serve who suffer from some of humanity’s most debilitating and painful diseases.

“Today we can bring hope to the twelve year old girl just diagnosed with diabetes that she may not have to spend the rest of her life injecting insulin into her body three times a day.

“Today we can bring hope to the athlete who was just paralyzed by a spinal cord injury that he may one day be able to walk again.

“And today we can bring hope to our parents and grandparents that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s will not rob them of the retirement years they worked so hard to be able to enjoy.

“All this hope is due to the potential that stem cell research has in developing treatments for conditions that medicine currently cannot cure.

“Stem cell research has become a very politically charged issue, both in New Jersey and across the country with supporters and opponents both very passionate about their beliefs.

“I do not deny that there are ethical concerns that are raised by any developing field of biotechnology. As a society we must be ever vigilant in watching the actions of the scientific research community and make sure they remain within the common ethical standards of our society.

“Ultimately, we as Senators don’t have the scientific expertise to determine whether adult stem cells or embryonic stem cells will bear more fruit – and that’s why this legislation neither promotes nor discourages either type of research but rather leaves that decision to a panel of expert researchers to decide on a grant by grant basis.

“But there is undeniable potential in stem cell research and that is why we must act.

“California has already bonded three billion dollars to support the same research and attract our scientists and life sciences companies. Massachusetts and New York are also entering the race. For us to not take action now will be critically detrimental.

“But ultimately, it will be up to the voters of New Jersey to decide if this is the right course for our state. The opponents of stem cell research will have until next November to make their case, but I think they’ll find that this is one investment that holds too much promise not to pursue.

“I encourage everyone in this body to vote “yes” and let the people have the opportunity to guide our course into the future of medical care.”

The bill passed by a vote of 28-8. It now awaits consideration by the Assembly.