BRUSSELS, November 19, 2003 ( – The European Parliament (EP) voted 300-210 today to call on the European Union to lift a moratorium on funding embryonic stem cell research.  The moratorium, which is in effect until December 31, bans European Union funding of destructive research on human embryos.  The EP vote is not binding since the final decision is to be made by the EU Council of Ministers.  The majority of MEPs supported allowing such research to be financed from the EU’s sixth framework programme budget (2002-2006) of some $17.5 billion.  The measure also called for allowing research on embryo or foetal stem cells deriving from so-called ‘therapeutic’ abortions.  A compromise proposal offered by German MEP Peter Liese, which was similar to the stand of the United States where only research on stem cell lines already in existence would be funded (so as not to encourage further human embryo harvesting), was voted down.  Just before the final vote on the measure, Liese advised voting against it and “disassociated” himself with the outcome of the vote.

The MEPs did agree that EU funding of research activities involving human adult or embryonic stem cells should be transparent and thus the Commission will publish yearly a list of research projects involving the use of human embryonic stem cells funded under the sixth framework programme. The Parliament added that in the case of research projects with embryonic stem cells, such publication must include a justification stating why other procedures were not usable.  See the EP press release on the vote:


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