More MS news articles for August 2002

Europe Delays Financing of Stem Cell Research

Jul 31, 2002

EU president Denmark on Wednesday said the 15-nation bloc would delay financing of human embryo and stem cell research until the end of 2003 to save an overall 17.5 billion euro research package to be implemented next year.

On Tuesday, a Danish EU official told Reuters a delay was likely due to sharp divisions over the issue of stem cells even within member states and political parties.

"At the core of the compromise is the commitment to establish by December 31, 2003, detailed implementing provisions concerning bio-ethical scrutiny of research activities within life science involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells,'' the EU presidency said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

The EU's funding of such activities will be postponed until then, except in certain specified cases, the statement said, without giving further detail.

The decision was to be published later on Wednesday on the EU Presidency's Web site.

The compromise would pave the way for the EU Council of Ministers to adopt the EU's 17.5 billion euro ($17 billion) scientific research program for the coming four to five years, by mid-August if possible, the EU president said.

Of the total research budget for the coming four to five years, 2.15 billion euros are earmarked for health-related genetic research. Out of this, around 300 million euros would go to research on aborted embryos and those left over from in-vitro fertilization.

Late last year, the European Parliament rejected a report calling for a ban on public funding of human embryo research. The vote took place a few days after a US firm made front-page news by announcing it had cloned a human embryo, a move condemned by pro-life campaigners.

Denmark reiterated that no EU funds will go to research activities aimed at human reproductive cloning, modification of the genetic heritage of human beings, or the creation of human embryos solely for the purpose of research or stem cell procurement.

National governments will not be bound by the decision of the European Union, however, as they are free to spend their domestic research budgets as they see fit.

© 2002 Reuters Ltd