The restrictions on stem cell research in Germany may leave scientists there with only one legal option for producing embryonic stem cells for research: leaving the country. For those who remain in Germany, even collaborating with international colleagues on new lines could leave them at risk of prosecution, according to government officials and legal experts.

Germany's 1991 Embryo Protection Law bans the production of human embryonic stem cells. Under a hotly debated law that took effect in 2002, scientists now can apply for licenses to import embryonic stem cells, but only from cell lines that date before January 1, 2002.

Those found to have been working on newer lines, or creating stem cell lines, are liable to prosecution. If convicted, scientists could face fines or up to 3 to 5 years in prison.

Hans-Georg Koch, head of the Medical Law Department at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International...

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