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Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates contributed $400,000 to the campaign backing a CA ballot measure that would make billions of dollars available for human embryonic stem cell research and cloning projects in the state, public campaign recordsshowed. Gates is the latest billionaire to contribute to a campaign that has amassed more than $12 million in support of Proposition 71, which would have the state borrow $3 billion to fund the controversial research over 10 years.
Cloning projects solely for research would be funded, but cloning programs to create babies would be barred. Only 2 CA measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, each related to gambling, have attracted more campaign contributions.
Billionaire eBay founder Omar Omidyar and his wife have contributed $1 million in support of Proposition 71, as have billionaire savings and loan executive Marion and Herbert Sandler. Venture capitalists, Hollywood celebrities and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation have also made big contributions to the campaign. A spokesman at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t return telephone calls. The Yes on 71 campaign declines as a matter of policy to discuss individual campaign contributions. The $27 billion Gates Foundation is one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations dedicated to curing diseases.
The campaign to defeat Proposition 71 has garnered just $15,000 in contributions.
Human embryonic stem cells are created in the first days after conception and turn into all the cells, tissues and organs that make up a human body.  Stem cells – both embryonic and adult –  can potentially grow into any type of human tissue and scientists hope to be able to direct the cells to grow into specific cell types needed for transplant.
[Embryonic] stem cells are harvested from days-old embryos, which are destroyed in the process.  Stem cells were first discovered in 1997.  [Adult stem cells are presently being used successfully in hundreds of medical treatments; embryonic] stem cells “are still many years away” from even a possibility of success. [27 Aug 2004   Pro-Life E-News; AP, Paul Elias, 25Aug04]