Frontlines | EU Power and Stem Cells

Courtesy of Dennis Steindler

A bit of a tussle is happening in the European Union over which official body can ban, or not ban, human embryonic stem cell research. The familiar ethical controversies are mixed with considerable legal confusion.

A report released this month by the European Commission, which directs EU-funded research, says regulation of the research is in the hands of member states. However, the European Parliament voted to ban some forms of such research in April. "Regulating on ethical matters is the [jurisdiction] of the member states," says EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, introducing the Commission's latest survey of the field. The EU, however, can legislate on matters of quality and safety. So research opponents have added amendments about stem cells to a quality and safety legislation proposal.

European Parliament member David Bowe says that such confusions are "part of the...

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