Brussels, Oct 2003
German MEP Peter Liese, the European Parliament's rapporteur on new proposals for the EU funding of embryonic stem cell research, will argue for a more restrictive approach than that foreseen by the Commission when he publishes his report in early November.
While the Commission envisages EU funding for projects that aim to create new stem cell lines from frozen embryos created for IVF purposes before June 2002, Mr Liese's plan would only allow research to be carried out using existing stem cell lines created before August 2001.
Furthermore, Mr Liese would like to see priority given to projects that aim to carry out research using adult stem cells.
Details of the proposals contained in the draft report were outlined to journalists at a press conference in Strasbourg, France, on 22 October. A vocal opponent of embryonic stem cell research, Mr Liese stated that there are compelling reasons to completely exclude this type of activity from the EU's research programmes, but accepted that such a position would be unlikely to produce a political agreement.
In drafting his proposals, Mr Liese drew extensively on US guidelines for public funding of stem cell research where, similarly, scientists must work with stem cell lines procured before 7 August 2001. Mr Liese's argument is that stem cells from those lines used by publicly funded researchers in the US can be sent to Europe for use in EU projects.
'This compromise represents a very great concession by opponents of embryonic stem cell research to its supporters,' concluded Mr Liese.