Brussels, 05 Sep 2003
After a delay of nearly two years, Portugal's Prime Minister, Durão Barroso, installed the 21 new members of the national council for ethics in life sciences during a ceremony on 4 September.
The first challenge for the advisory body's new members, said Mr Barroso, will be to reach a position on the use of human embryos in research, which will form the basis for subsequent legislation on the issue, details of which the government has said it will announce before the end of the month.
In his speech, Mr Barroso gave few clues on the position his government would ultimately adopt, saying: 'Some people, in the name of science, would like to allow everything; others, in the name of ethics, would like to ban everything. [The council] must strike a balance on the issue.'
The council's new chairperson, Paula Martinho Da Silva, acknowledged that there had been a strong demand for bioethical advice in Portugal during the period between the council's creation and the installation of its members, saying: 'There are certainly requests for advice that we will have to respond to.'