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8-Humans: Spain closes door on embryonic stem cell research, Netherlands open it



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Spain closes the door on embryonic stem cell research
SOURCE: Lancet, sent by Human Genetics Alert, UK
DATE:   October 20, 2001

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Spain closes the door on embryonic stem cell research

On Oct 3 the Spanish parliament voted against a proposal by the opposition 
Socialist party to allow the use of embryonic stem cells from "spare" 
embryos from in-vitro fertilisation treatment. The Socialists wanted the 
government to modify a 1988 law on assisted human reproduction (see Lancet 
2001; 358: 480), which says that embryo-related research is a serious 
offence. But the Socialist party says that a legal loophole allows 
embryonic stem cell research. However the proposal was rejected because 
"the government must first create an Advisory Committee on Ethics of 
Scientific and Technological Research" and because "we are aware that [40 
000] spare embryos have not been destroyed so future research projects are 
not at risk", said a government spokesman.

Jaime Lissavetzky, spokesman for the Socialist's Science Commission said 
that the health and science ministries have totally contradictory positions 
on embryonic stem cell research. On Sept 26 the science minister Ana 
Birulis told the parliament that permission for such research could be 
sought in special circumstances. The next day, the state secretary of the 
science ministry Ramsn Marimsn told the senate that "research on embryonic 
cells is permitted" and that some projects had federal funding.

Meanwhile on Oct 10, the health minister Celia Villalobos told the senate 
that "there is no scientific and ethical consensus [among the National 
Commission of Assisted Reproduction members (CNRA)] to modify the 1988 law. 
She also noted that CNRA would meet to discuss the future of 40 000 embryos 
currently stored in Spain. Current laws set a 5-year period from harvesting 
to using an embryo but there are no clear rules about what happens after 
the deadline expires.

Jeszs Avila, a stem cell researcher at the Centre of Molecular Biology in 
Madrid, says that most laboratories are purchasing cells from the 64 lines 
established by the US government (see Lancet 2001; 358: 899). Anne McLaren, 
a researcher at Wellcome's Cancer Research Campaign Institute, University 
of Cambridge, UK, and a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology 
Authority, says that "other European countries seem to be moving in the 
opposite direction".

However European supporters of such research may come up against the 
European Commission (EC), which has made it clear that its programme for 
2002-06 will fund adult and not embryonic stem cell work. Xavier Bosch 
Contents


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  The Netherlands approves embryonic stem cell research
SOURCE: Lancet, sent by Human Genetics Alert, UK
DATE:   October 20, 2001

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


The Netherlands approves embryonic stem cell research

On Oct 9, after 1 year of discussion, the Dutch Parliament voted in favour 
of a new law that will allow researchers to use embryos that are left over 
from in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures. These embryos may also be 
used for embryonic stem cell work. The new legislation stipulates that 
researchers must only use spare embryos from IVF treatment and the law 
forbids the production of embryos solely for research purposes. All 
research on embryos will only allowed after informed consent has been taken 
from the embryo donor. Furthermore a central national committee must 
approve all research. Finally, the law explicitly forbids cloning of 
humans, embryo manipulation for sex selection procedures, and experiments 
that try to combine human and animal embryos.

Wim Weber



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