The World Youth Alliance, a global coalition of young people promoting the dignity of the human person in policy and culture, welcomes the conclusions of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Yves Bot, in the case Bürstle vs. Greenpeace (released on 10th March 2011). The Advocate General, in recommending that a patent for embryonic stem cell research be denied to the Plaintiff, stated that the research involved necessarily involved the destruction of human embryos, and as such, its use for industrial or commercial purposes violated the dignity of the human person. World Youth Alliance sees this as a first step in recognizing the inherent dignity of the person from conception to natural death, and that embryonic stem cell research is a violation of that dignity.
The commercialization of the human body raises serious questions relating to the violation of the dignity of the person. At stake in the current case, was the patenting of the human embryo. The case examined the claim of a German researcher who sought to patent his research, which involved a proposal to cure neurological disorders using embryonic stem cell research. The Advocate General noted that the research involved extraction of cells from embryos at the blastocyst stage, which necessarily destroyed the human embryo. Because the research involved the destruction of human life for industrial or commercial purposes, it was ruled that this procedure could not be patented.
“The Advocate General’s legal analysis shows that embryonic stem cell research cannot be patented because destruction of human embryos for commercial purposes violates the integrity of the human body and therefore human dignity,” states Marie-Caroline Leroux, WYA Europe’s Regional Director. “This is a first step in recognizing that all research that destroys human life is a violation of human dignity and therefore human rights.”
The Advocate General’s recommendation will be forwarded to the European Court of Justice who will make the final decision in the Bürstle vs. Greenpeace case. Decisions of the ECJ rarely go against the direction and guidance of the Advocate General.