European Union Won’t Increase Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

European Union Won’t Increase Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 19
, 2005

Brussels, Belgium ( — The European Union will not increase funding for embryonic stem cell research with money appropriated from member states. Even though the European Commission’s research funding for the coming years has been doubled, more funds will not be committed to the controversial research.

At a Brussels press conference earlier this month, EU commissioner Janez Potocnik unveiled the new science budget which allocates $88.4 billion for research. In December, Potocnik told a German newspaper that EU scientists should be allowed to destroy human embryos for their stem cells.

However, The Scientist reports that Potocnik has toned down his call and EU spokeswoman Antonia Mochan says no new funds are headed to the research.

"Funding will not be specifically allocated for stem cell research," Mochan told The Scientist. "Stem cell research [in FP7] will again be a small part of total research."

The EU commission is currently funding 25 stem cell research projects, including two that destroy human embryos for stem cells. The EU is using about $650,000 to fund to the research projects.

That’s not enough for some scientists who want to engage in the unproven research.

Stem cell researcher Jürgen Hescheler, head of the Institute of Neurophysiology at the University of Cologne in Germany, told The Scientist that the European Union must do more to fund such projects.

"This is a very important field, a field of the future," he said and indicated he is worried the EU is not keeping up with embryonic stem cell research in the U.S.

"I think here in Europe we need to invest more money in human embryonic stem cell research," he said.

Additional wasn’t put in place initially because only two member nations allow the destructive research — the United Kingdom and Sweden. Now there are 25 member nations and more than a dozen allow it.

However, Mochan recognizes some nations such as Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg, have laws opposing embryonic stem cell research or the funding of it. She said those views have to be respected.

"We know that there is not a single view about embryonic stem cell research in Europe," Mochan said. "We have to be careful how we use the funds contributed by EU member states."

Until then, the commission will favor adult stem cell research projects, which have already produced dozens of cures and treatments. No patients have yet been cured through embryonic stem cell research.