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Minnis Seeks Stem Cell Committee

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Dr. Hubert Minnis

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

FNM Leader Hubert Minnis has called for a select committee to review stem cell legislation before the Bill is passed in the House of Assembly.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday at his residence Dr Minnis reiterated his concerns that if the stem cell industry is not properly regulated the Bahamas stands to be black listed. He said the Christie administration had appeared to have been blind-sided by special interests to a select group of people to pass the bill. 

His words have been reignited in view of Prime Minister Perry Christie’s trip with a delegation this week to the University of Miami (UM). The university has earned a reputation of carrying out a series of FDA approved stem cell clinical studies which are offered free of charge and are said to have advanced stem cell procedures greatly.

Dr Minnis said: “What is even most amazing is this Bill would have been passed weeks ago had it not been for the FNM bringing up certain concerns. Suddenly they are seeking consultation. A visit to UM was never a part of their original plan.

“But the real issue is that the majority of UM’s programmes are clinical trials and FDA approved. The Bahamas is talking more about service and treatment, so they must answer the question: What exactly is UM’s role? Especially out of the realm of them not being a treatment and service provider.

“They need to take this Bill and put it in a committee stage, a select committee to review the Bill entirely and to ensure that the enforcement agencies and policies are in place.”

With that Dr Minnis said the government now needs to make known if the Bahamas will consider offering clinical trials or delve directly into stem cell as a service – which he strongly advises against. He commended the government, however, for realising that the present legislation has deficiencies which need serious attention. 

Dr Minnis further criticised the government for failing to receive the proper certifications but he said they were hoping to gain them by way of association.

The Opposition leader has for weeks accused the government of pushing forward with the stem cell research and therapy Bill in the Bahamas because of alleged promises to Peter Nygard, the millionaire Lyford Cay resident who is a keen backer of stem cell research and says he has financially supported the FNM and the PLP. Former prime minister Hubert Ingraham, who during his administration refused to meet with Mr Nygard, denied that the FNM were ever given any financial support by him.

Comments

august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't understand why Dr. Minnis is fighting this bill... If the FNM government had won the election last year 2012, we the people in Freeport would have had a facility opened in July of 2012 which was approved by the FNM government. If I recall Dr. Hubert Minnis was the Minister of Health. ***Can someone ask Dr. Minnis to shed some light on why he approved a facility without ANY legislation back in 2011 - 2012 for Stem Cell Research? The present government has put legislation in place...come on give it a rest...STEM CELL IS BIGGER THAN PETER NYGUARD! Let's work for the good of the country and stop making fools of ourselves. PLEASE DR. MINNIS, WHY WAS THE APPROVAL DONE WITHOUT THE LEGISLATION CAUSING THESE PEOPLE TO SPEND MORE THAN 5 MILLION dollars in HARD EARN MONEY AND WHAT HAS CHANGE SINCE May 2012...Oh the government!!! My Bad.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 11 months ago

The fact is the FNM didn't win in 2012. The fact is if Dr Minnis believes the legislation is not in place today there's no way it was in place in 2011.

It's always easier to look at what someone else is doing and highlight the areas where attention is needed, It's actually a good thing if used properly. Its healthy to have a strong opposition. You want people to have a critical view of your proposals so at the end of the day you've hopefully covered all foreseeable gaps and are stronger for it.

Blame the FNM for shoddy preparation in 2011, but don't say because they didn't do the necessary research and preparatory work, the current govt doesn't have to either.

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august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

I didn't say that...what I said was a legislation was put in place which was not done last year before the FNM lost. Get it right!

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 11 months ago

Hmm sorry I thought you said *"PLEASE DR MINNIS, WHY WAS THE APPROVAL DONE WITHOUT THE LEGISLATION ....AND WHAT HAS CHANGED SINE May 2012"... But I could be mistaken...

I'm pretty sure that Dr Minnis' argument is not that there is 0 legislation proposed, he's saying that not enough research and background work has gone into ensuring that the legislation provides adequate policing of the industry.

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Collin 6 years, 11 months ago

If you do not understand, his position it is probably because you chose not too.

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august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

I need him to tell me why now he is so against it, when he gave the okay more than 1 year ago. Accept responsibility and give right where it is due. Give right to the present government for putting a legislation in place and move on!

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august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

The current government put something in place...legislation because they saw it was necessary.

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bahamianadvocate 6 years, 11 months ago

Dr. Minnis is fighting this bill because he has nothing else to do. The FNM does not have a true leader and thus lacks a vision for their party and the country. He is not for the people, he is lost! There are many issues more pressing other than stem cell research in which he needs to be more vocal. (Crime - murders, drugs, theft etc., Education - lack of a tertiary Institution, Immigration). He was minister of Health when the new Okyanos stem cell facility was built in Freeport without any sort of legislation in place. So the people ask.. Why now Dr. Minnis ????

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

I dunno why this man doesn't be fully honest with the public about this issue. he approved the place in freeport, and he did so because the system is already there to do that with without this new bill. Why not just be honest about that so the public can understand things better? this plp bill isn't even needed for the government to say yes or no to stem cell work. Plus, if he doesn't believe any of the medical professionals in the bahamas are capable of dealing with this, then how is a room full of MPs in a select committee of da house, what he is now askin for, gonna be any more qualified at analysing the science of this???!!!

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Collin 6 years, 11 months ago

Good try PLP spin doctors for seeking to come on the Tribune's sight and spew your party's nonsense. The problem is it is not very effective in this medium especially when it is coming from these anonymous talking heads possibly the same persons.

Now having said, anyone can put legislation on paper. That does not mean that because something is written that we have the necessary regulatory infrastructure to properly monitor and protect the Bahamian people.

As for Dr. Minnis he has succeeded at everything he has done in and out of politics and is certainly voted to be the best or second best MP from 2007-2012. He is a visionary leader and no matter how many times you all PLP spin doctor seek to state what you state and hope it catches on.

Moreover, It will not diminish that this PLP is the worst government ever!

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august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

Did he succeed when he gave the Okyanos approval to operate in Freeport and spend some 5 million plus dollars to upgrade a new facility and now he is "pulling" the rug from under them! What is the real reason?

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

why are you calling people on here plp spin doctors when they are stating facts, that dr. minnis approved a stem cell project while minister and is now saying such projects shouldn't be approved because there isn't anything in place to deal with them? how does that make people here plp? if there is nothing in place, why did he approve such a project? the answer is that there IS stuff in place, but because he has decided to take this stance, he wont tell the country the truth about whats in place.

and other people here are right about focus and priorities. where was the fight over the BUDGET??? that scandalous document got 100% FNM votes, not a single one voted no and thats a set of bills that is hurting just about everybody.

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august2013 6 years, 11 months ago

I am not PLP nor FNM...I am a Bahamian!

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Stapedius 6 years, 11 months ago

Besides what people believe in terms of the ethics and regulation I am more concerned that this nonsense is taking so much time. Many have no issue with Minnis opposing the bill and doing his job as Opposition Leader. I think people are just keenly aware that we have some serious issues to deal with in this country that are not being addressed by either the government or opposition. So, yes voice your concerns about stem cell, but we honestly have so much more to focus on in this country. Our politicians really need to have a priority list with the goals and objectives of this nation. I can really care less about this bill. We have poor hospital services, the out island clinics are not getting the support they need. Nurses are not receiving the training nor the compensation to make meaningful contributions to our health system. These are real issues that we face day in and day out.

So while it is true that he has the right and responsibility to oppose it is also true that he needs to focus on challenging the government on some serious issues. Stem Cell research is not a critical issue facing this country. Crime is, education is, healthcare is, National Insurance/Pensions is, Immigration is, Social Services is and the list goes on.

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Collin 6 years, 11 months ago

August, you made a nonsensical argument. You said if he succeeded when provided he provided the approval. The fact that you used the word approval means that he succeeded. Now if your question was phrased differently, then maybe we could have a discussion.

Stapedius, it is the job of the opposition as far as possible to ensure that not only laws are passed but the necessary regulations and infrastructure is their to protect us all. Whether or not you personally care about that is immaterial, it is the function of governance and of the opposition.

Further, the Government not the opposition dictates what is the priority of the legislature or in governance generally not that of the opposition. If the opposition has nothing to say and not point to the weaknesses or concerns in any bill they would not be doing their job.

We have short comings in our health services but we do not have poor hospital services. It is being challenged, however, with the large amount of trauma cases that it has to face. There can always be more more resources off course and improvement in systems and we should all encourage or assist in anyway to have that happen.

We have an multi-island nation is is truly a major undertaking to duplicate systems in all the islands, it is cost prohibitive. I do agree that we must determine a way to better fund and improve health care on our Family Islands.

By they way, your argument cannot be that the Stem Cell Bill is causing nothing else to be considered or addressed. I certainly believe that is not the argument you are making as though all 20,000 plus of civil servants are doing nothing, but waiting for this bill to pass or due to this, the cabinet ministers and their ministries are doing nothing else.

That would be ludicrous assertion and while I may not know you I trust you are not loony

Finally, this matter is an important issue and is receiving the attention it deserves. This represents far more than some may wish to acknowledge and speaks to the very essence of governance.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

Okay. But why are you running away from the fact that dr. minnis approved a stem cell project while minister and is now saying such projects shouldn't be approved because there isn't anything in place to deal with them? he shouldn't misinform the bahamian people just because he wants to take a certain position on this bill. if he wants to vote no, fine, thats his rights. but dont be dishonest to the people and tell them no system exists, cuz its that same system that does exist that he used to approve the facility in freeport. he cannot run away from that and shouldnt try to because it makes him lose credibility - just give the public all the facts, dont hold back facts to make your case today sound strong, when the same thing you are attacking the plp for in 2013, you did in 2011, thats all some people here are sayin. just tell the people the system that is in place, das all, dont be dishonest and tell them there is none. he was minister. tell da people whats in place right now and what he thinks needs to happen with what is in place, he doesnt need to speak untruths about this cuz it is actually making his own government look bad for no reason

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Collin 6 years, 11 months ago

Firstly, what is the untruth he has spoken? Has he denied that the facility was open? No. Let me ask a question since you all are speaking so emphatically is there a difference between what as an example being done at the University of Miami and what is being proposed for the Bahamas? If there is, what type of facility was approved previously in Freeport is it like the one at the University of Miami or what is being proposed by the PLP?

To me there is a level of intellectual dishonesty if we are saying stem cell research is the same thing as stem cell therapy.

Now I would love for one of you to honestly answer this.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

the untruth he has spoken is there is no regulatory system in the bahamas to deal with stem cell research or therapies - which is what the bill is about. the facilty he approved is for stem cell therapies, the very same thing in this same story he says he absolutely opposes. its obvious you support dr. minnis which is totally in your rights but its also obvious you are not able to argue away his hypocrisy in this and that is because you cannot. had he not withheld from the public the fact that regulations and oversight systems already exist without even the need for this plp bill, he would not stand as a hypocrite today. today he says we should def not do therapies, but he approved therapies! you cant run away from that even though you support him, as is your right to do.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

its also obvious you dont know the details of this whole dragged out story. no specific facility is being proposed by the plp yet, so there is nothing to compare "whats proposed for the bahamas" to yet. the only approved facility in the country so far is the one in freeport, and that is for cardiac stem cell therapies

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Collin 6 years, 11 months ago

Nationbuilder I am an FNM. However, I am able to reason and discuss issues without it being clouded by politics.

I will start with your last post first, you are absolutely wrong, I made no reference to the PLP approving a facility; that does not arise in this discussion.

To the previous statements, I see you are using selective argument and I understand why you are limiting your argument. I also hear you with your characterization with hypocrisy and earlier lies again I appreciate the spin.

Let me answer you this way, if Brave Davis or Obie Wilchecombe becomes the leader of the PLP. Do you believe that that the same matters would be approved? Do you suppose that there will be any divergence in their views? Keeping in mind how our governance structure is structured and operated. As an example, there is a thing called Cabinet Collectively Responsibility which means anything that is 'approved' or signed off by any minister is approved via Cabinet and the leader heads cabinet. If that is the case and some of you argue, whether true or not, that there was a one man band previously.

Now having said that, does it stand to reason that Dr. Minnis the leader will operate and think approve differently from some other person/leader?

Anyway, I will go and enjoy my holiday week end good day.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

In other words, you have absolutely no understanding whatsoever of the subject matter you are discussing, and because you are not able to defend the indefensible regarding Dr. Minnis' decisions while as health minister and now his position as opposition mp, you decide to run on with what kind of leader for the PLP obie or brave would be?? lol! Its okay; most of us here understand that you dont understand the science or the politics of this and simply wish to defend Dr. Minnis - which again, is totally your right. too bad you couldn't actually defend him, but atleast you tried. you think someone is knocking mr. minnis and the fnm for approving the freeport thing when in my case, im not. im saying they had all ability to approve it, nothin was wrong with them approving it - all minnis had to do was explain that to the country instead of having people think his own party broke some kind of law or something. what does he stand to gain by having the plp misrepresent what his own party did while he was minister???? end of the day though, most people are sick of dis issue. dese guys all need to get back to matters that are immediately affecting the bahamian people.

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TalRussell 6 years, 11 months ago

There's that always burning question which resides in the back of the heads of the red shirts asking themselves "Can we as a badly damaged party win a general election with Comrade leader Minnis? He hasn't exactly demonstrated that he is a leader who will stick to his guns. After all he changed his vote no against numbers to a yes vote. He had announced how firm he would stand against the speaker when he as not allowed to speak in the House and now he has been holding meetings with this same speaker. An apology to the speaker my just be too much for many read shirts to stomach.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

well thats on them i guess; whatever they decide to do with their party. i try to stay away from those kinds of fights. most of us regular folk just want to see some sense in parliament or see the opposition get royal about some of the other things that dey already voted yes to thats killing us, like all these taxes and fees!!!

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Stapedius 6 years, 11 months ago

Ok,enough with the nonsense Colin. It simply amazes me to see people defend things simply based on partisan political rubbish. The fact is we have a healthcare system that is inadequate to handle the needs of our people. Spare me the number of islands excuse. We for many decades have simply failed to plan as a nation. And this bull about what I'm suggesting as if to question my intelligence really indicates to me that people in this country are even more stupid than I thought. Continue to be a dumb political sheep Colin. The fact is Minnis is running on and on with this crap that quite frankly many Bahamians could care less about. Plp and FNMs really need to get lost on these sites. Their followers always seem to produce some rather stupid arguments to defend rather stupid actions.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

you're right about the problems in our own system, like counterfeit and parallel market medicines coming in here causing a big risk to our health, and then the public hospitals and clinics always running out of essential meds. if the government was focused on us, they would focus on stuff like that instead of makin this their priority right now

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FACTSPOLICE 6 years, 11 months ago

REGULATIONS FOLKS! MINNIS IS RIGHT! DO SOME RESEARCH YOURSELVES BEFORE YOU INVOLVE POLITICS.

Stem cell controversy

The debates surrounding stem cell research primarily are driven by methods concerning embryonic stem cell research. It was only in 1998 that researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison extracted the first human embryonic stem cells that were able to be kept alive in the laboratory. The main critique of this research is that it required the destruction of a human blastocyst. That is, a fertilized egg was not given the chance to develop into a fully-developed human.

When does life begin?

The core of this debate - similar to debates about abortion, for example - centers on the question, "When does life begin?" Many assert that life begins at conception, when the egg is fertilized. It is often argued that the embryo deserves the same status as any other full grown human. Therefore, destroying it (removing the blastocyst to extract stem cells) is akin to murder. Others, in contrast, have identified different points in gestational development that mark the beginning of life - after the development of certain organs or after a certain time period. The word 'stem' does not occur in the New Testament of the Bible, and such a Hebrew word as "stem", found only in Isaiah 11:1, also means "stock", found also in Job 14:8 and Isaiah 14:24; the latter of thrice mention noting a bad ending, aka groundead to the point of extinction.

Legal issues

The stem cell debate has risen to the highest level of courts in several countries. Production of embryonic stem cell lines is illegal in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and Ireland, but permitted in Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK. In the United States, it is not illegal to work with or create embryonic stem cell lines. However, the debate in the US is about funding, and it is in fact illegal for federal funds to be used to research stem cell lines that were created after August 2001.

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nationbuilder 6 years, 11 months ago

The stem cell bill in parliament prohibits the use of embryonic stem cells in the bahamas. who knows if that will actually be adhered to, but thats what the bill says about that part of the issue

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FACTSPOLICE 6 years, 11 months ago

REGULATIONS FOLKS: READ ON, RESEARCH ON....

http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca/uploads...">http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca/uploads...

After a long period of public and policy consultation Parliament enacted the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) in March 2004 ending over a decade and a half of attempts to create national ART policy. The AHRA is a national regulatory scheme in which controlled activities may only be done subject to a license. The AHRA is modeled on the United Kingdom’s Human Ferilisation and Embryology Act, 1990. While the AHRA covers the derivation of embryonic stem cell lines, it does not cover secondary use of those cell lines. Sections 5 and 7 of the AHRA outline acts that are prohibited and subject to criminal sanction. These include: • reproductive and therapeutic/research human cloning (s.5(1)(a)) • creating in vitro embryos for any purpose other than to create a human being (or for improving or providing instruction in AHR procedures) (s.5(1)(b)) • creating one embryo from a cell, or any other part, of another embryo or fetus for reproductive purposes, or transplanting an embryo so created into a human being (s.5(1)(c)) • maintaining an embryo outside the female body for more than 14 days (s.5(1)(d)) • sex selection (except to prevent, diagnose or treat a sex-linked disorder or disease) (s.5(1)(e)) • germ-line gene alteration (s.5(1)(f)) • the transfer of a non-human sperm, ovum, embryo or fetus into a human (s.5(1)(g)) • the use of any human reproductive tissue or in vitro embryos that has previously been implanted in a non-human (s.5(1)(h)) • the creation of a chimera, or the transplant of a chimera into a human or non-human life form (s.5(1)(i)) NB: Chimera means an embryo into which a cell of any non-human life form has been introduced; or b) an embryo that consists of cells of more than one embryo, fetus or human being • the creation of a hybrid for reproductive purposes (s.5(1)(j)) • the purchase, offer to purchase or advertise for the purchase of human gametes from a donor or a person acting on their behalf (s.7(1)) • the purchase, offer to purchase, or advertisement for the purchase of an in vitro embryo (s.7(offering a donor to purchase, or to advertise for the purchase of, a human cell (or gene), for the purpose of creating a human being (s.7(3)) Of particular interest are the prohibitions against cloning for research purposes, the creation of embryos for research purposes and the criminalization of commercial transactions in human reproductive tissues.

Read on.....

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