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Home arrow In Brief arrow Head of BioEthics InterGroup, MEP Peter Liese : "Embryonic stem cell research reaching its END" !?

Head of BioEthics InterGroup, MEP Peter Liese : "Embryonic stem cell research reaching its END" !?

Written by ACM
Thursday, 17 November 2011

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"Pioneers" of embryonic stem cell research halt clinical trials => Embryonic stem cell research has reached its end, says Peter Liese : Consequences for EU research policy = Focus should be laid on adult stem cell research" 


The US-company Geron has announced to halt its clinical trials with embryonic stem cells. The company has invested millions of dollars over the past years in this kind of research and started the first trial with human embryonic stem cells one year ago. They now announced to stop it and concentrate on their core business, which is cancer research. The announcement of the clinical trial last year had been celebrated as a big breakthrough in science, and the company has invested a lot to convince the US-authority FDA  to approve the trial. The official justification for the halt is that the company lacks money, but independent observers from all over the world see the decision as a prove for the thesis that embryonic stem cells are not the breakthrough- technology that is seemed to be."

- "After ten years of hype, the supporters of embryonic stem cell research finally have to face reality. If even the "pioneers" of embryonic stem cell research cannot generate funds for their trials, it is clear that the belief in this kind of research is gone", said Peter Liese, medical doctor and spokesman on health of the biggest political group in the European Parliament (EPP- Christian Democrats).

- "The latest development demands also consequences for the EU research policy. The halt of the clinical trial with embryonic stem cells has clearly shown that research on embryonic stem cells does not bring added value for the patients. We should therefore not finance it with European public money. Our effort should concentrate on ethically unchallenging alternatives like adult stem cells and stem cells from the umbilical cord. These alternatives have been successfully used in hundreds of clinical trials for more than 70 diseases".

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+ Also the decision of the European Court of Justice in October demands a policy change in Europe. The Court has decided that human embryonic stem cells can not be patented in Europe, and in the justification, the Court referred to human dignity. "If a technology cannot be patented in Europe, it makes no sense to support it with European money. The Commission in its research programs even demands scientists to patent their innovations. It is not useful to do research in Europe and leave the commercial exploitation to other parts of the world", said Liese.

Current drafts of the new Commission research and innovation program Horizon 2020 however indicate a different direction. The Commission obviously intents to finance not only research with human embryonic stem cells but also the derivation of the stem cells with includes the destruction of the embryo. Under the current 7th Research Framework Program research which implies the destruction of human embryos is not funded.

- "I'm confident that the new developments, including the Court case and the announcement of Geron, will convince the European Commission that the future lies in the alternatives and we should not waste European tax payer's money for a technology that is very much disputed, prohibited in some Member States and obviously not successful", Liese said.  

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Speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", the New EU Parliament's President, former Polish Prime Minister, ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Jerzy Busek, welcomed proposals by EuroFora about innovative ways for EU Citizens to attend EU debates before important final decisions which affect people's lives.

- "We (EU Parliament) must be transparent", Buzek stressed from the outset.  "We must have clear answers also for delicate questions. If we don't touch a problem, you must know why, and when shall we decide in the nearest future".. "Because "we (EU) must think about Europeans, first of all : They don't understand well what is going on in the EU. So, it's our duty to inform them, to make discussions here more interesting".

"EuroFora" congratulated President Buzek for the anouncement he made, from the 1st day of his election in Strasbourg (on Tuesday, 14 July 2009), on his intention to make  transparent debates, exchanges of views, etc. before the final adoption of decisions in EU Parliament's Plenary, when issues are evolving inside Committees, (See earlier publication).

And we reminded, in this regard, that "EuroFora" has been advocating a project for EU Citizens' active involvement in pluralist EU debates before important EU decisions, since more than a Decade : 1997-2007+

- "Thank you. We (EU Parliament), indeed, have exciting debates", Buzek replied. But, in practice, "without a possibility for our Citizens to see them, not even by the Press, the Radio or TV, etc., because it is in Committees", he regreted.

- "But, they (i.e. Media, Citizens, etc) might interact with you, with MEPs, etc, May be we can imagine something", "EuroFora" proposed.

- "Yes, (but) it needs, a quite new idea", Buzed observed.

- "Why not through some innovations ?", "EuroFora" suggested.

- "Innovation ? That's it. Fantastic  New Information Technologies !", Buzek realized.

- "Precisely, "EuroFora" has such a project, since more than a Decade (1997-2009), to use new technologies for public debates before major EU decisions are taken", we reminded.

- "If you have such proposals, please come to us, come to us. We must" do something, agreed the new EU Parliamen's President.

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    This fits with Buzek's main stance, expressed at EU Parliament's plenary earlier this week in Strasbourg, that the European Union must succeed to overcome a "Crisis of Trust" vis a vis EU Citizens. (See previous EuroFora publication).

    For that purpose, obviously information and debates are valuable, but purely instrumental, procedural means which can help focus on, and highlight a substantial content, attractive to EU Citizens, which needs to be determined by other, political, and not mediatic factors.  

    Buzek spoke about the urgent need to overcome the Global Economic Crisis,  the struggle for Human and Civic Rights, Democracy, etc., the Eastern Partnership, links with Russia, strategic partnership with USA and emerging countries, etc.

    But he also used (while speaking both to "EuroFora" and other Media) the expression : "The Europeans", for EU Citizens. This points right towards what several important EU leaders (including French President Sarkozy, German Chancellor Merkel, etc) have started to highlight particularly during the recent years : That there is a vital need, and an historic opportunity, for the development of a European Conscience, to stimulate e renaissance of a European Identity able to attract Popular support, for the EU to become a strong player in a Multopolar World : In other words, the revitalisation of a project for a "Political Europe".

    By a coincidence, this was indirectly but surely reminded, earlier in Strasbourg, by another ... Busek (this time with a "s") : 

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    Speaking to more than 650 participants from CoE's member countries, at the conclusion of the 2009 Summer University of its Political Schools, Erhard Busek, (with an "s"), former vice-Chancellor of Austria and EU Coordinator for South-Eastern Europe, pointed at the current need to revitalize Europe's "Identity", forged by Greek philosophy and Roman Law, Christian values and Enlightment's ideas, etc. through the ages.     

- "We have almost the same name with Jerzy Buzek (EU Parliament's new President, who is a former Polish Prime Minister), because both our Families come ...from  the same village, located at the Heart of Europe, which was often shared between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. But my family emmigrated a long time ago to Austria, while Jerzy Buzek's family remained in Poland", explained f. vice-Chancellor Erhard Busek to "EuroFora".   

 An astonishingly concrete and simple example of European Integration from the grassroots : Starting by EU Citizens, i.e. those "Europeans", that EU Parliament's new President, Jerzy Buzek (this time with a "z"), wants to bring alongside MEP's decision-making proces, (according to "EuroFora"'s main idea : Comp. supra)...

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