Europe: towards financing of research on human embryo?

Publié le 30 Jun, 2006

European Parliament members adopted on 15 June 2006 a 50 billion euro program for research (7e PCRD, 2007-2013). This Framework Program for Research and Development allocates 2 billion euros to biotechnologies and life science, which was subject to long debates to decide whether Europe had to finance embryonic research.


A very weak majority


Parliament Members approved with 284 votes for and 249 against, the community financing of research on human stem cells, either adult or embryonic. The debate showed strong division on this question: Polish and Italian voted against in majority, French and British for, German was really divided. German Green MEP, Hiltrud Breyer noted: ”if embryos are considered as real transformation materials, maybe we are in a ethical rupture”, denouncing also the risks of drift towards human cloning.


Three positions


Three positions emerged around the lodged amendments: 

  • the support for financing any research on human, adult and embryonic stem cells, this position was lead by Philippe Busquin, ex European Research Commissioner, member of the Committee on Industry Research and Energy (socialist – Belgium).
  • The refusal for financing any research which uses human embryos supported by Peter Liese (PPE – Germany) and Hiltrud Breyer (Green Party – Germany).
  • The so-called position of compromise, consisting in limiting the financing of embryonic lines obtained before 31 December 2003.


Why working hard at financing?


The use of embryonic stem cells do not give today any result, either in man nor in animal; from now scientists talk about research interest and not about therapeutic objective. Why from now this relentlessness for financing these works? Undoubtedly we have to find an answer in the fascination for the beginning of life and the will to control them as well as in the choice of free material research, which are supernumerary embryos.


The COMECE ” stunned “


The COMECE, European bishops’ assembly, was “stunned” by this vote. It reminds that to be opposed to the instrumentalisation of human life and to its use as raw material is not “only a catholic position” because “scientifically, there is no moral reason to distinguish an embryo at the beginning of its life to an embryo after its implantation in uterus or after 14 days”. Any human life begins from the conception and deserves a particular protection when it is created outside women body.


A decisive step in autumn


During next meeting of ministers for research, on 24 July 2006, European Council will examine the question of financing. Several Member-states let know that they are opposed to the recommendation of European parliament members (Austria, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia…) because they refused to finance a research they prohibit in their country. Then, European Parliament will adjudge, at the second reading, in autumn, before a final joint decision




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