European Union Approves Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 15, 2006

Brussels, Belgium ( — The European Union parliament has approved spending tax money on embryonic stem cell research. The vote came after an Italian government official took Italy’s name off of a document signed by several nations that had been blocking the funding.

A majority of MEPs favored the embryonic stem cell research funding proposal, though money will not be able to be spent for human cloning.

The vote means small share of the EU funding for science projects in their 2007-2013 budget will be allocated to embryonic stem cell research. It spends $64.3 billion on various scientific projects and programs as well as health-related issues.

"Though the research is controversial, we can be confident that Europe has the most sophisticated system on ethics and research established in any public institution," British Labour MEP Gary Titley said during the debate.

Italy was formerly a part of a coalition of nations, including Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Poland and Austria, that tried to block the funding.

The EU has no policy on how it provides grants to scientists but a committee decides the research grants the science budget will fund on a case by case basis.

The guidelines from the last budget gave preferential treatment to adult stem cell research but still funded embryonic stem cell studies as long as they were not conducted in nations with bans on such funding. Under the last budget, eight embryonic stem cell research and over 100 adult stem cell research projects received financial support.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops responded to the vote by saying that embryonic stem cell research is "nothing short of the destruction of human life" because it involves the destruction of human life. They had wanted MEPs to spend funds only on adult stem cell research.