EU Ethics Group recommends caution on human cloning

The EU’s Group on Ethics has recommended that the Union should take “cautious approach” towards obtaining human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

The European Group on Ethics opinion on the “Ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells” addresses the ethical dilemma arising from the fact that patents can encourage scientific progress which can be used to the benefit of better healthcare but can also block access to health care due to patent fees.

The Group underlines that it is necessary to secure the right balance between the inventors interests and the society’s interest.

The Group states that only human stem cells which have been modified by an inventive process to get new characteristics for specific industrial application are patentable. The Group considers that cloning techniques aimed at obtaining human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes should be excluded from patentability.

The report calls for the creation of an EU Registry of unmodified human stem cell lines that would include both embryonic stem cells and embryonic germ cells. The Registry would ensure transparency and facilitate access by the research community.


All EU Member States have signed the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which bans human cloning for reproductive purposes. However, each country has introduced differing legislation regarding cloning and embryo research. The Charter neither authorises nor prohibits other forms of cloning.

Nine of the 15 EU Member States currently ban human cloning for medical research, and none of them allows human cloning to produce a baby. France and Germany have called for human cloning to be outlawed by international convention.

The European Commission has called on EU governments to adopt legislation against human cloning. It proposed to exclude any research into human cloning from EU funding.

The European Parliament rejected a resolution on human genetics in November 2001 after amendments in favour of therapeutic medical cloning had been approved.


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