Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Europe backs embryo cell research..kinda

Medical: Its a compromise which didn't make the backers all that happy.

THE European Union yesterday agreed to carry on funding controversial medical research using embryonic stem cells despite a determined attempt to ban such payments by several countries. A compromise deal was reached after the European Commission agreed not to give money directly to projects that destroy human embryos for the procurement of stem cells. But science ministers confirmed that money would still be available for experiments which used human embryonic stem cells at a later stage. The move comes just days after George Bush, the US president, blocked a bill which would have lifted a ban on US federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. ....The principle of using the stem cells created deep schisms between the 25 EU member states on moral and ethical grounds. While the majority, including Britain, France and Spain, argued passionately in favour of the research, a coalition of seven, mainly Catholic countries, argued strongly against. As extracting the human embryonic stem cells entails destroying the embryo, churches and ethics campaigners say the step is tantamount to murder. Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, the head of developmental genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, said: "It's not really much of a change. The EU probably wouldn't be involved in doing that much [funding of the creation of embryos] anyway, even though it [not doing so] is entirely illogical," he said. "[The agreement] seems to be one which will allow research involving human embryonic stem cells to go ahead in those countries that are happy with that. "This strange compromise isn't particularly helpful, but not too drastically against what we would hope." A spokesman for the Royal Society said it was "glad" an agreement had been reached, but was "disappointed by the decision to introduce new restrictions, which would prevent EU research funding being used to extract stem cells from early human embryos that are left over from fertility treatment and would anyway be destroyed".

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