EUROPE, May 14, 2002 ( – The influential European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), is urging researchers and legislators to take a “cautious approach” towards cloning human embryos for research purposes, but they have not recommended a complete ban on embryonic stem cell experimentation. EGE officially advises the European Union on ethical questions.

EGE panel member Peter Whittaker indicated that there is a broad consensus that reproductive cloning should be illegal but said there is less consensus on therapeutic cloning. He acknowledged that therapeutic cloning was still controversial, not simply from an ethical perspective, but also in terms of its scientific merit. For example, he said, “we don't know whether problems of premature ageing would be evident in therapeutic clones … We don't yet know enough and more animal work needs to be done.”

The EGE report rejected a complete patenting ban on stem cells and stem cell lines produced by cloning. This decision, however, was not unanimous. Committee member professor Guenter Virt wrote that the patenting of stem cell lines would “push research toward embryonic stem cells” at the expense of further research into the use of non-embryonic or adult stem cells. The EGE also recommended greater transparency in declarations of the source of stem cells.

The European pro-family group Euro-Fam says the EU is already on the verge of approving embryonic stem cell research throughout the Union. They are urging european pro-lifers to contact their MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to declare their opposition to such a move. In an email action alert distributed yesterday, Euro-Fam said people have to act by Wednesday at 11:30 when a vote is scheduled in the European Parliament.

Euro-Fam reports that at a May 7 meeting between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, it was suggested that member states and applicant countries which did not prohibit embryonic research would receive EU funding for all kinds of research except in the area of producing human beings explicitly for research purposes (cloning was not explicitly excluded). Only Germany had sent recommended research guidelines to the Spanish negotiator. Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain have been silent and the EU is treating their silence as “an implicit approval of its policy,” says Euro-Fam.

Information for action can be found at: