Missouri voters have narrowly approved a measure sanctioning embryonic stem cell research in the state. The amendment to the state constitution received 51% of yesterday’s vote after supporters waged a $30 million advertising campaign that included celebrities such as Michael J. Fox. Elsewhere, three governors who had backed stem cell research in their states won re-election, while one of the biggest congressional opponents of their use–U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)–was trounced.
“I’m very proud of Missouri,” says Steve Teitelbaum, a Washington University bone pathologist who has campaigned on the grassroots level around the state for years on the issue. He predicts that the small but potent research community of universities and biotech companies centered in St. Louis and Kansas City will benefit from passage of the amendment–which prevents lawmakers from barring work on embryonic stem cells while criminalizing cloning with the goal of reproduction–as will patients. “It’s going to energize the biotech community,” he says.
I was watching this race last night (well, refreshing the CNN poll page) with a lot of interest. At first it certainly appeared like it was going to be defeated, but I’m so glad to see that Missouri voters came through. Good job!