Germany Wants European Union to Ban Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funds

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Germany Wants European Union to Ban Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funds Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 20, 2006

Brussels, Belgium ( — On the heels of President Bush prohibiting any additional embryonic stem cell research funding in the United States, Germany announced Thursday that it doesn’t want the European Union to add more funding in its next budget.

In June, taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research from the European Union looked certain to happen after the EU parliament voted 284 to 249 two weeks ago for a budget containing it.

However, changes have been made to the budget and it may not get enough votes to pass a second required vote.

The EU is expected to have a meeting on Monday to discuss science funding and Germany pressed other member nations to vote against more money for embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life.

"The European Union science program should not be used to give financial incentives to kill embryos," German Research Minister Annette Schavan wrote in a letter, according to a Reuters report.

"The current proposal from the European Commission and the European Parliament does not rule this out," the letter added.

The European Union budget for all science and technology projects is about $64.3 billion and funding for stem cell research is a small part of it. The budget does not fund human cloning for either research or reproductive purposes or the genetic modification of humans.

In addition to the parliament vote, the Framework Programme 7 (FP7) budget, which funds all EU science projects, must also be approved by the EU member states.

Germany is hoping that longtime allies including Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Slovakia will vote against the embryonic stem cell research funding.

Those nations, along with Italy, were responsible for delaying the FP 6 budget, which expires at the end of the year and placed most emphasis on funding in favor of adult stem cells. However, after elections there, Italy has withdrawn its support for blocking the FP 7 budget and embryonic stem cell funding.

Reuters reported Thursday that Germany is hoping to get Italy to change its mind and rejoin the coalition.

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.