Debate on EU funding of stem cell research goes into final round

The Commission presented its ethical guidelines for EU funding of stem cell research to the Competitiveness Council on 22 September. They should enter into force before the end of 2003.

During the Competitiveness Council on 22 September, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin presented the Commission's proposal for implementing provisions for EU funding for research activities involving human embryonic stem cells under the6th Framework Programme.

Following the decision to stop funding stem cell research in July 2002, the Commission published a controversial proposal on 9 July 2003, establishing a coherent set of ethical guidelines for approving EU funding for stem-cell research projects (see

EURACTIV 11 July 2003). The new rules are due to be adopted before the current moratorium on embryo research terminates, in place until 31 December 2003.

The Commission's proposal is currently being discussed in the Parliament, and a report by

Peter Liese(EPP, Germany) is expected to be adopted in the Industry Committee on 4 November and in the plenary session on 17-21 November 2003. Mr Liese has already announced important amendments to the proposal. The Council will then decide on this issue in its session on 27 November.

A final decision is eagerly awaited by the biotechnology industry, as large amounts of hitherto frozen funds could be made available for research.

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