28 January 2007
ByAppeared in BioNews 393
A proposal to lift the existing ban on using human embryonic stem cells for research is currently under way in Norway. The government's proposed bill would allow the use of embryos left over from fertility treatments for research purposes, subject to the consent of donors and the approval of an ethics panel.
Currently, Norwegian law does not allow research on fertilised eggs, human embryos, or cell lines cultured from fertilised eggs or human embryos. Although fertilising unused eggs for research purposes will continue to be banned, the new proposal would allow patients to donate spare embryos not suitable for implantation or those which have reached the end of the allowed five year storage period. Silvia Brustad, Minister of Health and Care Services said on the proposed legislation that, 'the government believes it is important to use the opportunities offered by science to gain knowledge that can be used to treat serious illnesses in the future'.
The bill would also change the regulation of PGD by allowing a new board, which would only handle PGD cases, to decide whether treatment should be allowed based on the severity of the genetic condition. This would be a relaxation of the current system where the procedure requires special authorisation from a government panel.
In order for the bill to pass it will have to be supported by the coalition government, which has a majority of seats in parliament. It is not yet certain whether any members of the ruling coalition will object to the new proposals.