EU Fails to Agree on Common Embryo Research Policy

The European Union was unable to agree on a common human embryonic stem cell research policy on Monday, and will continue to fund research on a case-by-case basis, officials said.

"We still think that adult stem cell research is preferable to embryonic stem cells, but we don't have a qualified majority in favor of this," Elisabeth Gehrer, Austria's minister for education, science and culture, told a news briefing, according to Reuters.

Based on an EU program ending this year, applicants for human embryonic stem cell research funding are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by a committee rather than under a general policy.

According to Reuters, a European Commission official said 15 of the 25 member states favored continuing the case-by-case approach.

The EU has approved funding for six projects using embryonic stem cells so far.

Embryonic stem cell research is controversial because it involves harvesting stem cells from a fertilized egg that that is in the early stages of development to becoming a fetus. Some Christian and pro-life groups oppose the research for the same reason that they oppose abortion since conception is considered the starting point of life.

U.S. Stem Cell Research

In the United States, where scientists in recent years have bemoaned the fact that they were falling behind other nations such as South Korea in the research, a California group of three bioscience institutes and a university are pushing to build the state’s first center exclusively for the controversial research on the University of California San Diego campus. About $3 billion in state grants is available under a state stem-cell initiative approved in 2004, according a report by The Palm Beach Post on Saturday.

The New England state of New Jersey, meanwhile, is looking to borrow $50 million more than the original $200 million for stem-cell research facilities after the state Senate amended a bill on Monday that added funds to construct an institute in Newark aimed at studying adult stem cells, CourierPost Online reported Tuesday morning.