On November 28th, the ITRE Committee of the European Parliament (EP) adopted an amendment to maintain EU Commission funding for embryonic stem cell research. The amendment was adopted in the context of the Parliament’s scrutiny of Horizon 2020, which is the EU framework program for research and innovation.
The Industry Research & Energy (ITRE) Committee gave the go-ahead to fund research activities that require the destruction of the embryo. In many Member States, this practice is either illegal or unregulated. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) clearly excludes embryonic stem cell research results from being patentable. The ECJ decision Brüstle v. Greenpeace emphasizes that “the destruction of human embryos for commercial purposes violates the integrity of the human body and human dignity.” The ITRE Committee thus endorsed EU Commission funding for activities that are not legally patentable within the EU.
The ITRE therefore disregarded the opinion of the JURI (Legal Affairs) Committee. This opinion was adopted on September 18th and called for the exclusion of research with human embryos and human embryonic stem cells from research funding under the Horizon 2020. In the EP, the Legal Affairs Committee is responsible for determining the ethical principles and the legal accountability of grants allocated to research. The World Youth Alliance will work on ensuring that the Legal Affairs Committee’s amendments to exclude EU Commission funding for embryonic stem cell research will be voted on in the Plenary of the EP.