The lengthy debate over whether EU funds can be used for research on human embryonic stem cells (HESC) is approaching a conclusion. A vote in the European Parliament on November 19 has cleared the Council of Ministers, as representatives of member states, to make the final decision.

During negotiations setting up the current Sixth Framework Research Programme, a temporary ban on funding HESC research was agreed upon in order to allow the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of Ministers to debate the issues, and ideally reach agreement.

The Commission proposed guidelines on July 9, 2003, that would allow funding under strict conditions. In their vote on November 19, the European Parliament approved the Commission guidelines, subject to some amendments. One key amendment actually relaxes the proposed restrictions on the research. This vote is a victory for those members of the Parliament who support the stem cell research....

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