EU ministers dispute over stem cell research funding

A group of countries led by Germany and Poland have lobbied hard to outlaw the use of EU money for human embryonic stem cell research or to substantially limit such funding, which is included in the EU's proposed US$65 billion research budget for 2007-2013.

The European Parliament last month approved the use of EU money to finance human stem cell research provided the funds are not used for research into human cloning for reproductive purposes, modification of genetic heritage of human beings or experiments creating human embryos solely for the purpose of research. Under the EU assembly's proposal, any application for funds must include details of the licensing and control measures taken by authorities in the particular member nation.

Cells taken from human embryos are uniquely versatile, and many hope that one day they could help treat Alzheimer's, type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other health problems. But Roman Catholic teaching opposes scientific research on human embryonic stem cells, according to the AP.

Last week, U.S. President George W. Bush used his veto for the first time in his presidency on a bill that would have multiplied federal funding for stem cell research.