OTTAWA, May 15, 2003 ( – The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the agency which provides government funding to approved research projects, has announced that it will fund destructive research on human embryos. After receiving heavy criticism last year for announcing such funding prior to legislative decisions on the matter, the CIHR accepted a moratorium on such funding which expired April 1, 2003.

In an interview with the National Post released yesterday, CIHR President Dr. Alan Bernstein, said the agency would commence funding of the controversial research. “We're going to proceed. It is now May, we need to move forward,” he said. Berstein also told the Post that he considers it “unacceptable” not to proceed and that CIHR will proceed even if the bill does not pass. Health Canada is aware of the agency's actions, he said.

A well recognized ethicist in Canada Dr. Margaret Somerville, the founding director of McGill University's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, criticized the CIHR decision saying, “I think it is a great pity. A pity for science and the integrity of science.” She argued that the legislation should have come before funding, “out of respect for the democratic process—because this is a very contentious area.” She concluded, “Scientists always want to get on with what they are doing. But this science is not just about science, it is about some of our most important and profound values.”

Ted Gerk, director of Campaign Life Coalition British Columbia, told the Post, “It is very, very regrettable that they would take this course of action. We are rushing headlong into science without any thought as to ethics or morals or anything. We are doing it simply because we can.”

On its website CIHR has issued a call for nominations to a Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC), which lists a June 2final date for nominations.

For previous LifeSite coverage of the CIHR's pre-empting Parliament see: