Companies Pursue Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

A handful of large companies in the U.S. began pursuing embryonic stem cell research, sparking protests from some Christian stockholders who say such methods are unethical.

According to an April 12 article by the Wall Street Journal, several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, General Electronic and Invitrogen Corp., have already initiated research programs or have plans to use stem cells for studies that range from testing drugs to developing new transplant treatments.

Big companies have largely avoided the stem-cell debate at least until recent years for fear of drawing “fire from religious groups and other opponents,” according to the Journal. To date, research using stem cells have been pioneered by university laboratories and a few privately owned biotech companies.

Supporters of stem-cell research say the study may help develop cures for neuron-related ailments like type-1 diabetes and Parkinson’s. However, opponents question the morality of the research since it requires the destruction of early-stage human embryos, which many conservative Christians view as unborn life.

Some Christian-based organizations have already begun protesting the companies’ decision on moral and ethical grounds.

"As long time shareholders of General Electric stock, we are outraged to learn GE will pursue embryonic stem cell research,” a statement from the Children of God for Life ministries read, Tuesday. “Despite the declining value of the current market price of their stock, we are left with no choice but to sell it and re-invest in companies that are not involved in unethical research.”

Debi Vinnegdge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, encouraged others to contact the companies “at once” and voice “complaint and threaten a boycott!”

Meanwhile, David Prentice, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington, told the Journal that such protests are quite possible.

"Because of the moral issue, many of us would not want it funded at either the federal or the private level," Prentice said.