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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" !?

Parašė ACM
Thursday, November 17, 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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    - "Europe must be liberated from this undermining "wooden talk" of a "unique thought" which hampers democratic debates", stressed incoming EU Chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking to Journalists after his official meeting with EU Commission's President, Jose Barroso, at Elysee Palace in Paris

    - "It's precisely because there are not enough Debates, that EU hasn't managed yet to make it clear to European citizens what is really at stake", he added, in an obvious reference to the latest Irish "No" in 2008, after a long series of similar, unprecedented events, from the 1st Majority Abstention to EU Parliament's Elections in 1999, repeated in 2004, to the Dutch and French "No" in 2005, etc.


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          In fact, "there is no time to lose for Europe, and that's why we decided to start the French EU Presidency right away, from the first day", he explained, on France's exceptional choice to schedule the usual meeting with EU Commission from the 1st day of the 1st month, instead of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th or even 10th or 11th, as it had been done by others in the Past..    


    - "This is not an easy period, but we shall act with determination, while also listening to Citizens' views", he promised.

    Sarkozy's move came shortly before his opening Speech, next week in EU Parliament in Strasbourg, for the first Public Debate on the Priorities of the French EU Presidency (July - December 2008), and that's one of the reasons for which he significantly opened his EU Council's Chairmanship by welcoming at Elysee palace EU Parliament's President, German MEP Hans Gert Poettering at first..

    The incoming EU Chairman was replying to Press Questions about rumours that controversial British EU Commissioner on Trade, Mandelson, was alone to drop an invitation to have a working Diner at Elysee palace, together with all other EU Commissioners and the French Government, only because he would have been upset for some critical points made earlier by President Sarkozy in defense of European Agriculture vis-a-vis its Foreign competitors.

    But, as smiling Sarkozy played down Mandelson's reported refusal to debate, saying that he had to visit Marseille for a Ministerial meeting on Trade the next morning, and that "all our British friends are always welcome to taste a nice diner" in France, perhaps at another occasion..

    - "It's urgent to win anew the trust of the People" : Lately, "the European ideal lost its momentum. Since several years, whenever Citizens are questioned on Europe, they react with reserves : They even have .. a tendency to reply "NO".. After this 3rd "No" of a People in some years, there is an Urgency to convince", added French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, after a meeting earlier the same day of all Ministers with EU Commissioners, followed by an interview with Barroso

    "According to recent Polls, only 30% of French people believe that the European construction is a source of hope. It's only a poll, but we all now quite well, that, since 2005, it's dangerous to neglect these alarming signals, as it would be dangerous to treat with contempt the Irish "No", Fillon warned.

    "We all have a common duty to prove to the European Citizens who have doubts, that EU is more useful, more necessary, than ever" : And "that EU can take decisions needed in order to respond to European or Global challenges", the Prime Minister concluded.

    - "We believe, together with President Sarkozy, that EU should open debates on all issues of direct, concrete interest to Citizens", confirmed later to EuroFora the Head of France's governing party (UMP), Patrick Devedjan, after his speech to the European People's party (EPP) Study Days in Paris (2 - 4 July 2008).

    He didn't deny that one of them is Turkey : - "Public Opinion in France is very much unfavorable to Turkey's EU bid, and President Sarkozy has said that several times", he told EuroFora.

    From European Central Bank's controversial policies on Euro's value, to EU Enlargement Strategy, etc., issues of obvious importance to EU Citizens will be plenty, next week in EU Parliament in Strasbourg, before President Sarkozy launches the debates on EU 2008 French chairmanship's priorities on Thursday.

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2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?

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