State Rep. Chris Taylor

State’s Biomedical Industry Threatened

Assembly bill could kill industry with 100,000 workers and $27 billion annual impact.

By - Oct 1st, 2015 03:36 pm


We all thought it was a miracle when the Badgers beat Kentucky in the Final Four. Legislators – both Republican and Democrat – couldn’t wait to honor the University of Wisconsin basketball team. But, the real miracles are happening in the labs at UW, at the Weisman Center, at Research Park, and across Wisconsin. The same Republicans who clamored to have their picture taken with Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes are now advancing Assembly Bill 305, which would shut down biomedical research and destroy the miracles that will come in curing or treating devastating diseases.

Deadly, debilitating diseases don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative. The hyper-politicization of biomedical research threatens future life-saving medical advancements. We’ve all benefited, or will benefit at some point in our lives, from the advances reaped from this research. The polio vaccine is just one example of this. I for one want my loved ones to be able to access every possible option should they become ill and for scientists to rely on the best research avenues available.

Wisconsin has a long history of innovative research and is an internationally recognized leader in biomedical research. Since its inception, 11 UW faculty members have received the National Medal of Science Award, described as “the nation’s highest honor for achievement and leadership in science and technology.” Right here, James Thompson derived the first human embryonic stem cell line in 1998, and is credited with redefining biomedicine. The current climate in Wisconsin threatens to tarnish that reputation.

The University of Wisconsin attracts top researchers from all over the world, as well as undergraduate and graduate students who are drawn to the university because of its biomedical research. The UW is literally educating the next generation of scientists. We stand to lose some of the best current and future scientists in the world.

But this life-saving research isn’t just being done at the UW. It’s being done in private businesses across the state – bioscience accounts for over 100,000 private sector jobs and has an economic impact of $27 billion a year. It’s also being done at Madison College, which just received a $661,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for their stem cell technology and regenerative medicine program.

We need to treat our scientists as the heroes that they are rather than creating a climate that is not supportive of research. These individuals are entrusted with one of the most important objectives. Advances on treatment for end-stage breast cancer, cardiac disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, blindness, diabetes, asthma, and immune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and neurodegenerative diseases have all been made possible by biomedical research.

I’ve been a state representative for 4 years, and unlike some of my colleagues, it seems, I know when I need to listen to the experts. One such expert is Professor Alta Charo, a leading authority on bioethics who just happens to on the faculty at UW Law School and UW Medical School. Professor Charo had this to say in her recent article in the prominent New England Journal of Medicine: “We have a duty to “tak[e] advantage of avenues of hope for current and future patients…This attack represents a betrayal of the people whose lives could be saved by the research and a violation of that most fundamental duty of medicine and health policy, the duty of care.” And policy makers have the duty to advance policies that give hope to improving people’s lives, not bills like AB 305 that shut down lifesaving research that will save a sick child’s life.

Chris Taylor, D-Madison, represents District 76 in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Categories: Business, Op-Ed

14 thoughts on “Op-Ed: State’s Biomedical Industry Threatened”

  1. AG says:

    If we learned anything from Josef Mengele, it is that the ends justify the means. Am I right? Think of all the amazing advances in genetics he discovered that we never took advantage of!

    By the way, the bioscience statistics are impressive… how much of this bioscience field actually uses fetal tissue from aborted children and has no alternative option?

  2. Nicholas says:

    Godwin’s Law.

    There are not Nazi like medical experiments being done here, that is absurd.

  3. Barbara says:

    AG sounds like a paid shill, suggesting by using vague questions that something is amiss but never offering any facts. Damnation by suspicion only works on those who don’t think.

    Why isn’t economic impact as important when it comes to jobs linked to intellectual pursuits as when it results from environmentally damaging pursuits such as mining in northern Wisconsin? It should be more important, if anything.

  4. AG says:

    Indeed Nicholas, I’m a fan of pointing out Godwins law myself. Good times. I could have used Machiavelli to bring up the “ends justifies the means” but he’s actually falsely attributed to that idea. Mengele makes an obvious and easy to follow example.

    Barbara, the “vague questions” and “never offering any facts” is exactly what Chris Taylor is doing here. She gives vague questions to how the law applies to the bio science field in WI that implies there would be this huge impact. Further she never offers us any facts to back up those implications. The only “facts” she gives are completely unrelated. Removing the moral implications of what she is saying, her position is like saying new regulations on electric cars are going to ruin our auto industry.

  5. Barbara says:

    Okay, AG, so where are your facts?

  6. AG says:

    Barbara, to which facts are you referring? I asked the question of how much of the bio medical field in WI uses tissue from aborted children. I don’t know what the answer is, that’s why I asked it.

  7. Barbara says:

    I think you asked it to plant the suspicion that the work was somehow suspect. It’s a common ploy of Fox News pundits. You didn’t expect anyone to respond with the answer. Go and find out and come back with that information if you want to contribute to the conversation.

  8. AG says:

    Barbara, it’s not suspect.. it’s morally wrong. But that isn’t the point of my question. I pose the question because Chris Taylor claims this law will have a devastating effect on the bio-medical field in WI which I think is patently false. I’d bet good money that the amount of research being done using tissue from aborted children is an extremely small percentage. Thus her position is misleading and not true.

    Chris Taylor is the one who makes that assertion thus it is up to her or her supporters to back up that claim. If you support her position, please tell me how much of the state’s bio medical field will be affected by this law. It is NOT the 100,000 jobs and $27 billion that she claims.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    What do people actually working in this field think, and why isn’t it wise to listen to what they say?

  10. Barbara says:

    AG, I’m saying that you make it sound like the program is somehow suspect (of being morally wrong in your opinion) by asking a hypothetical question. It’s a handy trick. Find out for yourself if you want to contribute to this conversation Innuendo is never useful. You’re jumping to the conclusion that “her position is misleading and not true” with no proof whatsoever. Misleading? Look in the mirror.

  11. AG says:

    Barbara, I am not sure how much more clear I can be and I am not sure how you are not understanding what I am saying. No hypothetical questions, no innuendo. To be as concise as possible… 1. It is morally wrong to use murdered children for research. 2. A very very VERY small percentage of the bio medical field in WI would be affected by this legislation, despite what Chris Taylor says.

    What more, exactly, are you looking for here?

  12. Barbara says:

    AG, I am not sure how much more clear I can be and I am not sure how you are not understanding what I am saying. Your opinions on “murdered children” are not germane here because there is no indication that fetuses are being used in the research. You simply assume that they are and try to make it sound like that’s a fact. You have no proof and offer no facts to that effect. You also state your opinion about the effect on biomedical research in Wisconsin as though it is fact. You seem not to have a strong grip on reality. if you have objective facts please present them. Not your opinions and not some thinly veiled effort to stir up controversy where there is none.

  13. Barbara says:

    1. Nowhere does it say “murdered children” are being used in this research. Please provide facts.
    2. Please give facts to support your statement that only a very small percentage of biomedical research in Wisconsin will be affected by this.

    So far all I’ve seen is a lot of opinions palmed off as fact. There is a critical difference. Your ability to make a statement does not make it true.

  14. AG - poster formerly known as Andy says:

    Barbrara, you’re infuriating to try to get a message across to. The person making the statement that the fetuses of aborted children are being used for biomedical research is Chris Taylor. Not me. Why are you asking me to provide proof for something this op-ed is stating?

    Chris Taylor takes it further by saying the entire bio-medical economy in the state is affected by this legislation. She does not tell us how, since most research does not involve the use of aborted children. Do you think most research does? I guess we can only assume so, because why else would you ask for evidence to the contrary? Do you really think a $27 billion industry and over 100,000 jobs are all based on research using aborted children?

    If you do, I would ask that YOU provide the proof (which coincidentally would be the proof you’re asking for in the first part) and if you don’t, why are you questioning me on this?? You state that I do not have a “strong grip on reality” but I believe you only say that because your comprehension of this op-ed and the discussion is quite limited.

    Just for clarification, you DO realize that Assembly Bill 305 pertains to the sale and use of aborted children for research purposes, right? That is the only thing affected by this legislation… thus any research affected is only the research using aborted children. Chris Taylor says our $27 billion industry and 100,000+ jobs are affected by this legislation. Hence Chris Taylor is saying our entire biomedical industry uses aborted children. That is ridiculous to say. I call her out for that misleading statement.

    My “opinion” is that we do not have a $27 billion biomedical field in wisconsin that is solely based on using aborted children. Do you disagree with that “opinion?”

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