Nygard claims he helped write stem cell law
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 30, 2013
After telling reporters this summer that he had no personal interest in the government passing stem cell legislation, controversial Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard claimed in a recent YouTube video that he “initiated and helped to write the stem cell legislation” which was eventually adopted into law in The Bahamas.
The claim was included in a nearly 10-minute video about Nygard and his journey with stem cell research titled ‘PJN Breakthrough 9:26’.
“I initiated and helped to write the stem cell legislation and I took it to many countries,” Nygard said.
“Ultimately The Bahamas adopted it into law.
“Prime Minister [Perry] Christie has shown tremendous courage and political savvy to guide it through the legislature.
“So The Bahamas stands alone in being a unique country that has written laws and has made SCNT legal.
“I’ve been on stem cell therapy for four times a year for the past three years. I’m a living testimonial that this really works.
“This is a quantum leap.”
He noted: “I want to live forever or die trying.”
He described the research as “perhaps immortality”.
Nygard later spoke of his planned clinic in The Bahamas, which will include somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology and will be “free of political restriction”.
SCNT is a technique used in cloning cells.
He previously told The Guardian that he has already lined up $100 million in investment for the undertaking.
No personal interest
Nygard told reporters in July that he had no personal, self-serving interests in the government passing the Stem Cell Bill.
Yet, in the video, Nygard said that he had a four-step plan all along to conduct stem cell research.
“This has always been a four-step plan, to find the right technology, to find the right country to write the proper laws and to get the correct facility,” he said.
As of last night, the video had fewer than a thousand views.
In July, Prime Minister Perry Christie said that Nygard promised to bring experts in stem cell therapy and research to The Bahamas if the government passed legislation to govern the sector.
He said Nygard had approached him two years ago, when he was leader of the opposition, and told him of his problems trying to find reputable stem cell treatment for his sick mother.
The speech, along with excerpts from the debate on the Stem Cell Bill are included in the video.
“If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything,” Nygard said at the end of the video.
During debate on the bill, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis cautioned the government against “rushing” forward with the law.
The FNM later suggested that the government was pushing the law as a pay back to Nygard, an assertion the government denied.
After that story made headlines, Nygard was asked about his relationship with the government and the bill.
“I don’t know why anybody would paint that as doing it for me,” he said. “I think he (Christie) is doing it for [Bahamian] people, for The Bahamas.
“If I can help, and I will, then that’s a whole different issue. There is nothing in it for me. This is not a money venture for me at all.
“There’s no promise to me. The promise that I made to him (Christie) is that I will do everything that I can to spur and bring like-minded people like myself to invest in this place to be the leading edge, to be the catalyst [to bring investments] here.”
Parliament passed the Stem Cell Therapy Bill in August.
The new law allows scientists to perform SCNT.
Health Minister Perry Gomez said the law would place strict limitations on the practice to prevent human reproduction.
A scientific review committee and an ethics committee would police the sector.
Anyone who breaches the stem cell regulations would be subject to a fine of $500,000 and 10 years in jail, at the discretion of a Supreme Court judge.