The battle whether stem cell research should or should not be subsided from Union funds differentiated EU countries. The Polish standpoint, as not to assign EU’s funds for this research, lost.
“Our standpoint wasn’t approved by enough countries to block such regulations”, said the Minister of Science, Professor Michał Seweryński, after several hours of a negotiations marathon in Brussels.
The victory is claimed by those states that wanted to support such research from the European fund known as Seventh Framework Programme (7FP). To please those countries which opposed, the European Committee made a statement that no money from Seventh Frame Programme would be used for the destruction of human embryos.
This is a minor consolation for the Polish Government. “The Committee’s standpoint is internally inconsistent”, says Prof. Seweryński. Why? Because in the further part of the statement the Committee states that the destruction of embryos will not be supported but the further stages of research on stem cells could be.
Representatives of the Polish Government could have hoped for blocking the financing stem cell research with EU money until Monday morning. At first, it seemed that a coalition formed lead by Poland and Germany.
According to primary assumptions, this coalition would have up to 87 votes in the Council. In order to block the Council’s decision 3 votes would be enough (i.e. support from Slovenia).
However, during deliberations, it came out that Germany is not in the same team as Poland. Insistent objections were issued only by representatives of Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia. Seeing further objection senseless, the representative of Poland asked for noting “a strong opposition of Poland” in the protocol. It was the end of the battle.
The final project of the 7FP will be presented to the European Parliament, which will finish legislative work by October. The decision of the Council on Monday and the October-expected EP decision mean s that scientists in Poland will not be able to apply for stem cell research financing. Every research project supported by the 7FP must be compliant with the in-country law system. And in Poland the parliament as well as the government is against such research.
An embryonic stem cell is one that can transform into any kind of human cell. It may become a blood cell, a cardiac muscle cell or a brain cell. Experts are convinced that further research on stem cells may lead to a breakthrough in fighting such diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart diseases, diabetes, spinal cord injuries etc.
Stem cells can be obtained from adults, yet embryonic stem cells, collected from human embryos and stored in fertility clinics, provide the best quality and more utilisation options. However, by collecting stem cells from an embryo results in its extermination. This is why there’s so much moral controversy around it; some scientists and politics say that progress cannot justify killing human beings, which embryos are according to them.
The opinion of the Catholic Church is unambiguously negative. However 59% of Europeans endorse stem cell research. Financing research using stem cells brings up heavy arguments and not just in the EU. Some days ago, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, vetoed an act of Congress which allowed public financing of embryonic stem cell research. This was the first veto in Bush’s presidency.
Stem cell research is the only controversial part of the Seventh Framework Programme. This special, centrally managed union fund is to support of the most important EU research projects, which has a colossal budget of 54.5 billion € for years 2007-2013.