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Thursday, June 20, 2002

Session 4: Public Comments

CHAIRMAN KASS: No. Here's where we are. We had scheduled time here for a break before the public comment. It turns out that having rearranged the schedule so that there would actually be a quorum when the public comment session was called, no one signed up to make public comment.

Now that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there who would like to make it, but in the absence of a list, I'd like to gamble that rather than break and make people come back, that we rather ask anybody who has public comment to make, the rules here are 5 minutes or less, to come to the microphone and we will sit here now and then adjourn early if that's agreeable with everybody.

Is there anyone, any members of the public who would like to raise questions or offer a comment?

No obligation, but please feel welcome. Unlike the people in Canada, we haven't gone around the country and talked to 40,000 people. We wait for them to come here. It's probably improper. Does anyone want to comment?

(Pause.)

Well, then let me sum up where I think we are which is hard to do. It sounds to me like there are — there is some coalescence around a couple of positions. What the more restrictive position would be, number 6 or number 7 or whether there would be, whether people would want to file separate opinions on that, that's to be worked out, but not here. I take it that the less restrictive or the more liberal position would coalesce around Option 3 and as Michael Sandel has astutely noted, the materials for what might go into a description of that position have already been thought through.

I don't know how rapidly we can move to the conclusion of all of this. I don't mean today, but maybe we'll have something to report to you by tomorrow once we can talk to staff right now after this meeting and see where we are. But I think we've made a lot of progress, at least — I think we could make this a lot better if we took another six months, but I'm not sure the marginal rate of improvement is worth it and to the extent to which the issues that still divides us really is part of the stem cell discussion which we will have to have any how. I propose that we proceed here and try to bring this to a conclusion with some recommendations on public policy, assuming that there is not yet an explosion to occur about which I don't yet know.

Is that — if there are dissents from that, rough sense of the meeting and people will get an opportunity in due course when these positions are drafted to both — in fact, maybe I'll speak with you, Michael, about some help on that or Frank. But people can get a chance to sign their names so that you will be with your friends. We will not — I'm happy that there's more than one recommendation coming out of here. It seems to me what the conversation warranted. And we serve people best, I think, if we show them two morally serious and well defended and articulated positions and in which they can actually see the price of choosing one or the price of choosing the other because this is not an area where there is something cost free to be had.

An announcement. I realize that we asked you to save time for dinner, but there was perhaps not all together a follow up on where that will be. Council Members will meet for drinks before dinner at 6:30 in the hotel bar, it's the main lobby at the top of the stairs. And dinner is at 7 in the Washington Room which is the room where we have had our — the breakfast room. It's I think that way and around the corner. The signs point to the Washington Room is on this floor.

The meeting is adjourned until tomorrow morning at 8:30. We will have a session, two sessions on patenting and I remind you that there is a new submission in the materials here from Professor Arti Rai, her paper on patenting of living organisms.

Thank you for your attention and comments.

(Whereupon, at 4:06 p.m., the meeting was adjourned, to reconvene tomorrow morning, Friday, June 21, 2002, at 8:30 a.m.)

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