Today the Commission adopted a proposal for guidelines on EU-funded human embryonic stem cell research. The EU 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006), as adopted by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in 2002, allows for the funding of human embryonic stem cell research in relation to the fight against major diseases.
Such research, in particular when it involves the derivation of stem cells from human supernumerary embryos, can only take place within a framework of clear and strict ethical guidelines. The EU research programme includes ethical provisions related to sensitive areas of research. In light of the sensitive nature of human embryonic stem cell research, the Council and the Commission agreed at the time of the decision-making process on FP6 that further ethical guidelines would be adopted before the end of 2003 for deciding on and for monitoring the EU funding of human embryonic stem cell research. Today’s proposal presents a coherent set of strict ethical guidelines that will apply to the EU funding of research projects involving the derivation of stem cells from human supernumerary embryos. In parallel, the Commission is publishing a call for proposals for the set-up of a European registry of stem cells and for contributing to the establishment of public stem cell banks. In this way, the EU will contribute to an optimal access to and use of stem cells, ensuring that the results of research ultimately become more quickly available to all patients across Europe.
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said : « The decision to fund human embryonic stem cell research from the Sixth Framework Programme was already taken by Council and Parliament last year. By funding this research and by setting strict ethical rules for such funding, the EU contributes in a responsible way to advancing this science for the benefit of patients across the world, while at the same time ensuring that it takes place within a clear ethical framework. »
Fabio Fabbi | European Commission
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