Page URL:

EU approves funding for ES cell research

19 June 2006
Appeared in BioNews 363

The European parliament has voted to allow European Union (EU) funding for projects involving human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. In the latest stage of the approval for Europe's 2007-2013 research budget, the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), politicians backed the proposal by 284 votes to 249, with 32 abstentions. The measure was part of an amendment passed on 15 June, and states that EU money may not be used for human reproductive cloning, genetic alteration of humans or the creation of human embryos specifically for research.

Policy on human ES cell research varies across Europe, with some countries banning all embryo research, while others allow such research to take place under strict guidelines. The UK, Belgium and Sweden have the most liberal regulatory approach to such work. Last October, a group of 73 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sent a letter to the commission president Manuel Barroso, calling for an end to EU funding of human ES cell research. The MEPs - predominantly from Italy, Austria, Germany, Malta, Poland and Slovakia - argued that Member States that do not permit the research should not have to share the cost of funding it elsewhere.

However, since the letter was sent, Italy's new, more liberal government has withdraw its support for the group. Fabio Mussi, the Italian Research Minister, told the Times Higher Educational Supplement that 'it did not seem to me right stopping research funding in other European countries'. Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Italian lawmaker Marco Cappato called the result 'a success for a tolerant and secular Europe', adding that the European Parliament had 'rejected an attack by fundamentalists and extremists'. But Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott criticised the move, saying that it would put countries who haven't already legislated to allow ES cell research.

Before last week's vote, the EU's Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik was asked to reveal the results of a new European poll on biotechnology, to indicate how the public feel about ES cell research. The results, to be published soon, show that 'Fifty-five per cent of Europeans approve embryonic stem cell research under the current government regulations, 17 per cent under some extra conditions, 9 per cent declare not to approve it under any conditions and 15 per cent say they don't know', said Potocnik.

Eight EU-funded projects on ES cells were funded under the previous FP6 budget. The FP7 funding will allocate €54.5 billion  (£38 billion) for scientific research in Europe over the next seven years, less than the 70 billion Euros the European Commission had asked for two years ago.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Divides EU
Business Week |  15 June 2006
EP approves stem cell research funding
RTE News |  15 June 2006
EU parliament backs embryo research
The Scientist |  16 June 2006
Stem-cell hope as Italy pulls support for EU opposition
THES |  16 June 2006
14 February 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
France's parliament is to debate on whether current bioethics laws prohibiting research on human embryos should be eased....
11 December 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The European Parliament's approval of funding for some human embryonic stem cell research reflects inequality in how individual countries recognise fundamental rights, according to a Vatican official. Following 19 months of negotiations and 2000 amendments - 700 of which were put to a vote - the 7th Framework...
31 July 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
UK physicist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neuron disease, has described the recent decision on European Union (EU) funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research as a 'fudge'. Last week, European Ministers agreed the latest draft of Europe's 54.5 billion Euro (£38 billion) 2007-2013...
24 July 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
European Ministers have agreed to fund some human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, in a compromise that bans any work involving the destruction of embryos. However, this would not prevent European funding of 'subsequent steps', the Ministers agreed at a European Council meeting held today. UK...
16 March 2006 - by BioNews 
Following discussions earlier this week, European Union (EU) research ministers have failed to find a majority opinion on how human embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research should be funded under the Seventh EU Research Framework Programme 2007-2013 (FP7). Because of the lack of agreement among member states, the EU will...
17 October 2005 - by BioNews 
A group of 73 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has sent a letter to the commission president Manuel Barroso, calling for an end to EU funding of research using human embryonic stem (ES) cells. The call followed the commission's unveiling of its draft priorities for the next round of...
25 April 2005 - by BioNews 
The European Commissioner for Science and Research has said that he will not directly increase European Union (EU) funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, even though the money allocated for scientific research as a whole has greatly increased. The proposed Seventh EU Research Framework Programme 2007-2013 (FP7...
7 March 2005 - by BioNews 
European scientists who want to work on human embryonic stem (ES) cells may feel inhibited by laws in their own countries that ban such research, even if they are working elsewhere. The problems arising from the diverse range of regulations governing stem cell research in Europe were raised in a...
3 December 2003 - by BioNews 
The ongoing debate on whether European Union (EU) funds will be able to be used for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research has failed to be reconciled today. The Council of Ministers has failed to agree on funding in a final attempt to resolve the issue before a moratorium on...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.