4A - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
A pro-stem cell policy
Increased stem cell research will cure diseases, benefit state
Thanks to a progressive stem cell treatment being devel-
oped by University researchers, life may soon change for
individuals suffering from certain neurological diseases.
And in a new political climate of support for stem cell research,
the proposed treatment has received FDA approval for a human
clinical trial. This is a significant victory for supporters of stem
cell research and patients suffering from neurological diseases,
but it's also good news for the University. And as governmental
support for stem cell research continues to improve, the Univer-
sity should strive to maintain its place at the forefront of such
important scientific advancements.
It's not because she's been indoctrinated.
It's because he's right."
- Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, commenting on why sister
Liz Cheney shares their father's views, as reported yesterday by the New York Times.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI | E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
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play some beer pag;
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Food for thought
The proposed clinical trial, which
received FDA approval on Sept. 18, is the
first of its kind for the disease it is designed
to treat and will be led by University
researcher Dr. Eva Feldman. The treatment
consists of injecting stem cells into the spi-
nal cords of patients suffering from Amyo-
trophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as
Lou Gehrig's Disease. ALS is a neurological
disease that causes a slow loss of voluntary
muscle function. Currently, the only treat-
ments for ALS are medications that slow
the effects of the disease, but researchers
hope that stem cell injections will stop and
possibly reverse the damage.
Approval of Feldman's treatment would
not have been possible if not for drastic
legislative changes in the past year. Michi-
gan's Proposal 2 ballot initiative passed in
the election last November, easing restric-
tions on stem cell research. And earlier this
year, President Barack Obama reversed an
executive order put into effect by President
George W. Bush, which had limited federal
funding to stem cell research. These fortu-
nate developments have been instrumental
in allowing the advancement Of iirbn'isirlg'
research with the potential to save mil-
lions of lives.
Diseases like ALS are debilitating and
painful, not only for those who suffer from
the disease but also for the people who
care for them. According to the ALS Asso-
ciation, there are as many as 30,000 people
in the United States with ALS. And they
could benefit from new stem cell treat-
ments. Other diseases like Alzheimer's
and multiple sclerosis may also be treat-
able using stem cell therapies. The poten-
tial of stem cell research to alleviate and
cure these diseases is more than sufficient
reason for the government to condone and
promote its study by leading scientists and
researchers across the country.
But opportunities for stem cell research
are especially good for the University. The
fact that University researchers are mak-
ing cutting edge developments in the field
brings the University - and by extension,
the state - needed publicity. Leading the
way on stem cells attracts bright and tal-
ented minds to settle in Michigan. And
bringing these professionals here will
undoubtedly contribute to the revitaliza-
tion of the state's economy through an
increased focus on science-based jobs. It's
important that studies like Feldman's are
funded and encouraged so that the Univer-
sity can remain the focal point of stem cell
But aside'ffonhthd economic bdn fh for
Michigan, it's important to remember that
Feldman's work has the potential to radi-
cally change the lives of those who suffer
from disease for the better. Governmen-
tal policy should continue to reflect the
enormous benefits that further stem cell
research will bring.
bile the past few months
have been host to a num-
ber of famous deaths of
Ted Kennedy and
Patrick Swayze, to
name just a few),
I was disappoint-
ed that one very
passed with little
fanfare. He wasn't BEN
a politician and he
didn't captivate CALECA
the masses with
music or speeches,
yet his work has profoundly changed
the world as a whole. He used sci-
ence to fight world hunger on three
continents. This man was Norman
Borlaug. Though he is not without
his critics, his work has shown that
sometimes it takes science to effec-
tively reduce a systemic problem like
food scarcity. This is the kind of man
that college students looking to make
a dlffetence d6 people's livds shouMd
aspire to emulate.
Before I address the critics of Dr.
Borlaug and his Green Revolution,
I want to make clear the dizzying
ramifications of his work are known
to the world. During the 1940s, he
worked for the Mexican government
to find solutions to the problem of
the country's grain crops that had
been riddled with disease. His work
not only stabilized wheat farming
in Mexico but allowed the country
to become a net exporter of wheat
within a decade. After fighting hun-
ger in Mexico, he turned his sights to
South Asia. Working with both India
and Pakistan during the 1960s, he
braved an unstable political climate
and introduced his methods of bio-
technology to increase crop yields
and produce record amounts of grain
harvests for both countries. Moving
on, he looked at new breeds of rice for
Asia, which created still more food
His work created genetically
diverse and disease-resistant crops,
which required fewer resources and
could withstand less hospitable con-
ditions. He was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize in1970 for almost single-
handedly fighting back a Malthusian
nightmare of famine across the globe
while working directly in the field efit for this Green Revolution. By
with farmers to address their con- using fewer animals as sources of
cerns. He's often been credited with fertilizer, artificially fertilized crops
saving the lives of a billion people. also reduce greenhouse gas emis-
But Dr. Borlaug's fight is far from sions. Genetic or chemical additives
over. In Africa and other areas of the fight weeds, which allows for farmers
globe, there are still people dying of to reduce labor and burn less oil to
hunger. It's unjust, and politics is one work farm equipment and keep crops
of the main reasons this situation per- healthy. Studies like the one conduct-
sists. Besides dictators and warlords ed by Graham Brookes of PG Eco-
controlling regions via the control of nomics credit genetically modified
food, pro-organic crop groups have crops with curbing global warming is
advised some African nations to only equal to removing over 4 million cars
grow crops organically, strangling from the road.
their food diversity and yield options If you study archeology, you learn
with inefficient farming methods and that you can trace back human agri-
non-genetically modified crops. The culture by looking at plants and the
question should not be whether or not food we ate. Corn, wheat, fruit - all
science is allowed to change our food of these things looked very little like
to meet the pressing needs of people they do today. We have been breeding
around the globe. Borlaug's work is them since before recorded history to
proof that this is often necessary. The be bigger, to grow with less water, to
real focus should be on making sure separate from chaff readily and to be
food reaches the people who need it grown uniformly. Changing the food
most. we eat to be more convenient and
Proponents of organic crops claim readily available allowed humans to
that because of lower nutrition in spend their days better, giving them
come biotech crops, malnutrition has ti'e'$trengh aid free time to create
become rampant. The truth is much civilization.
more complex. Having a limited
source of dietary options often leads
to malnutrition, and even if biotech Want to solve
crops have less nutrition per pound, W ant
their nutrition per acre harvested is
much greater. The efficient way to world hunger?
fight malnutrition is to diversify crop Meet Dr.B l
choices in a region and look for vita- M eet D oriaug.
min supplements if necessary, but
don't shun scientifically-enhanced
crops on principle alone. Without There is never a black and white
them, countless people would die. answer to most crises, and world
Natural farming methods simply hunger is certainly a complex issue.
require so much land, water, natural Addressing it requires a combina-
fertilizer from animals and manpow- tion of political, economic, scientific
er thathundreds of millions of people and social changes. Borlaug said to
would die of starvation. the starving peoples he had worked
Critics also cite the chemicals used to save, "We're going to teach you to
for inorganic fertilizer and pesticides be rebels. Not with guns and daggers,
as evidence of organic farming's supe- but with science and technology."
riority. But if a crop lacks pesticides Regardless of its criticisms, biotech-
(chemicals that, regardless of their nology still has room to grow - not
source, must harm insects), then its only in advancing itself and improv-
survival will be placed in the whims log on its old successes, but also in
of insect attack and seasonal famines. addressing the concerns of its critics
Farmers often use more chemical through research. I can only hope
products than are necessary, but this there are scientific minds as ambi-
problem is due to a failure to educate tious as his to carry on the work for
farmers about efficient agricultural such global causes.
practices rather than an intrinsic evil
in pesticides. - Ben Caleca can be reached
There is also an even greener ben- at email@example.com.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty,
Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Tax deductions encourage a larger amount than they otherwise might,
fans to donate to athletics drawing even more money into the non-profit
organizations that provide an obvious benefit
to the public.
TO THE DAILY: Enhanced athletic facilities allow our team
In his column, Mr. O'Mahen argues that to train and perform better and provide a
the tax deduction given to Michigan football direct benefit to the hundreds of thousands of
fans for their purchases of new luxury seating people that have ever felt the overwhelming
options is unfairly subsidized by Joe Taxpay- sense of pride that comes with being a Michi-
er (Subsidized Sports Fans, 09/28/2009). I'm gan fan.
unsure as to whether Mr. O'Mahen is suggest- Mr. O'Mahen suggests making athletic
ing we get rid of the tax incentive for making boosters "pay for the fair market value of
charitable contributions altogether or wheth- their club seats" when, by his own calculation,
er he's simply upset with alumni who are boosters would still be donating up to $52,600
spending their hard-earned money to make (after a tax benefit of about $20,000) for these
his school a better place. The former is inef- seats. As far as I'm concerned, this kind of
ficient and the latter unappreciative. support and generosity deserves a tip of the
Charitable giving results in positive exter- hat and a very sincere thank you from all who
nalities to society. Thus, tax deductions for wear and bleed maize and blue.
charitable giving are justifiable on the grounds
of efficiency. In other words, giving a tax Adam Heinlein
break to these donors allows them to donate Alum
EMILY BARTON I
Why I want my gap year
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E-MAIL ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
As a child of University alumni with multiple degrees,
my focus growing up has always been on school.
Every step I took in high school was toward the goal
of getting into college. My logical next step, then, as an
English major beginning my senior year of college, would
be to go on to graduate school. "Are you taking the GRE?"
my relatives keep asking, unaware that my parents have
already given up hope of that happening this year and are
instead focused on another question: "What will you do
I answer them truthfully: I don't know. I still want to
go to school again in the future. But I am currently unsure
what kind of graduate degree I might want to pursue. My
parents decided to go to grad school to delay the real
world, but I am making the opposite decision: I want to
try out the real world in order to delay grad school. When
I do finally go, I want to have a better sense of what it is
I want to do. And so, even in an economy where jobs are
scarce, I want to take a gap year.
"Shouldn't you do something career-oriented?" my
parents say, as they try to buy me interview suits and ask
if I have checked out the Career Center. Yes, if I knew for
sure what kind of career I was looking for. It isn't that I
haven't found things I love while in school. I've spent the
last few years as a writer and editor for the Daily, interned
for various publications and taken interesting classes. But
nothing has settled the uncertainty I feel when I think
United States Department of Labor statistics estimate
that people change careers an average of 10 times before
the age of 40. While I'm hoping that I won't feel the need
to go from job to job that many times, it's that luxury I'm
searching for - the ability to change my mind. So much
emphasis is placed on deciding on a career as an under-
graduate that there's very little information for someone
who wants to try something she has never tried before.
There are the usual options: Teach for America, teach-
ing abroad, the Peace Corps. I may apply to all three.
And there are the usual career paths for each major. For
example, as an English major, career websites suggest I
may enjoy a career in publishing, marketing or teaching.
I may try to find a job in a field like that. Or I may throw
a dart at a map, pack up my belongings and go. I want to
take advantage of the flexibility of youth, take the chance
to move around, and work a low-wage job in order to see
new places and meet new people.
For the first time in a long time, I have no idea what
my next step will be. And I know what you're think-
ing. Poor, naive college student - wait until she gradu-
ates and realizes there are no jobs. Point taken. But all
of my focus on education forces me to realize that no
matter what I do or where I go, it will teach me some-
thing about myself. Maybe all I will learn is that I should
go right back to school. But at least I will know for sure.
Emily Barton is an associate editorial page editor.