A fight has erupted over the composition of an influential European ethics panel that advises the government on science and technology, with some arguing that new nominations were based on political and religious considerations, not ability or experience. Scientists also say the increasingly conservative body may place new limits on research.

Late last month, European Commission (EC) President José Manuel Barroso – announced nine new members of the 15-member European Group on Ethics (EGE) in Science and New Technologies, an independent and multidisciplinary body that counsels the EC on policies and legislation. Five of the nine new members are practicing Roman Catholic activists, with little or no experience in science, according to a panel member who asked to remain anonymous. The new nominations also reduced the number of active scientists on the 15-member panel from four to two. "Albeit respectable, religious convictions must not be mixed up with science," says...

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