France Approves Embryonic Stem Cell Research on Human Embryos

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 23, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

France Approves Embryonic Stem Cell Research on Human Embryos Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 23, 2006

Paris, France ( — With little fanfare, France approved guidelines earlier this month allowing scientists there to use human embryos leftover from fertility treatments in research. The decision allows them to destroy the days-old unborn children to pursue research which has yet to yield any cures or treatments for diseases.

"It’s been a year and a half that we’ve been waiting for this –and we’ve been pushing hard," Marc Peschanski from the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) told The Scientist.

"Now we can start working seriously and stop feeling like we are constantly on the fringe of illegality," he added.

The French government has approved a ban on all forms of human cloning so the scientists were not able to attempt to clone their own human embryos for research. Moreover, bioethics laws approved in August 2004 made it so scientists could only use embryonic stem cell lines imported from other nations.

According to The Scientist, French officials have made the next five years an experimental period where researchers can use the embryos donated by consenting couples undergoing fertility treatments.

Carine Camby, director of the Agence de Biomédecine, which will oversee the projects, told the magazine that couples can’t create human embryos with the sole purpose of donating them for research.

“Of course there is always a debate, some researchers consider this should be allowed, that 5 years is not enough – there is not a consensus among the scientific community,” Camby said.

Camby said some scientists wants human cloning for research to be allowed and her agency has designated a member of the French Congress to look into the issue.

Scientists who want to engage in the research first have to submit their proposal to the agency, which plans to limit the number of human embryos used annually.