In 2001, President Bush restricted federal financing for stem cell research. The decision, which was shaped at least partly by the Republican Party’s evangelical Christian base, and which disappointed many American scientists and businessmen, provoked joy in India. The weekly newsmagazine India Today, read mostly by the country’s ambitious middle class, spoke of a “new pot of gold” for Indian science and businesses. “If Indians are smart,” the magazine said, American qualms about stem cell research “can open an opportunity to march ahead.” Just four years later, this seems to have occurred. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Biotechnology Report in 2004, Indian biotechnology companies are expected to grow tenfold in the next five years, creating more than a million jobs.
In the meantime, the poor may be asked to offer themselves as guinea pigs. In an article on biotechnology last year, India Today asserted: “India has another gold mine – the world’s largest population of ‘naïve’ sick patients, on whom no medicine has ever been tried. India’s distinct communities and large families are ideal subjects for genetic and clinical research.”