Malta opposing EU financing for stem cell research on embryos

Posted: June 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Stem cell therapy may one day be used to cure disorders such as Fragile-X syndrome, or Cystic fibrosis and other genetic maladies.

Matthew Vella

The Maltese government wants the European Commission to abandon plans to provide funds for research activities on stem cells that involve "the destruction of human embryos".

In a declaration on the ethical principles for the Horizon 2020 programme, which is an 80 billion fund for the EU's programme for research and innovation to create new jobs, the Maltese government said it wanted more detailed guidelines on the bioethical principles that will guide research programmes.

Horizon 2020 will allow the financing of research on human stem cells - both adult and embryonic - as long as it is permitted by the national laws of member states.

The fund however will not finance human cloning, genetic modification, or the creation of human embryos intended for the purpose of research or stem cell procurement.

The European Commission does not explicitly solicit the use of human embryonic stem cells, but Horizon 2020 allows the use of human stem cells according to the objectives of the research, and only if it has the necessary approvals from the member states.

The Maltese declaration echoes previous statements by the Commission of Catholic Bishops of the EC (Comece), which said Horizon 2020 did not include greater protection of human embryos from stem cell research.

Malta says it does not want any such embryos to be used for stem cell research. The statement by the Maltese government said the Horizon 2020 programme "does not take sufficiently into account the therapeutic potential of human adult stem cells."

Malta wants Europe to commit to a reinforcement of research on human adult stem cells, and that Europe should abstain from financing matters of fundamental ethical principles, which differ among member states.

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Malta opposing EU financing for stem cell research on embryos

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