Liberal Democrat MEPs today voted against proposals in the European Parliament to restrict stem cell research. The report, drawn up by a UK Tory MEP, calls for stricter requirements on voluntary and unpaid donations of tissues and cells for the purpose of medical research.
The Liberal Democrat European health spokeswoman and MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Rebecca Taylor, said: “The report swings the debate on stem cell research in the wrong direction, allowing individual EU member states to stop important medical science in its tracks.
“It is unhelpful to call for further restrictions on the donation of tissues and cells in the EU at a time when the number of patients in need of treatment based on stem cells is growing exponentially.
“We are already obliged to import tissues and cells from countries outside the EU. We cannot afford to further restrict our own supply of already strictly regulated donations.
“The UK is a world leader on life sciences. The European Parliament’s restrictive conservative philosophy puts our research centres at risk and could drive away high quality science abroad, for example to India. Regenerative medicine relies on a steady supply of stem cells.”
Tissues and cells, such as skin, bones, tendons, corneas and haematopoietic stem cells, form a vital starting point for medical research into human diseases and form the basis for new and innovative treatments and therapies. Conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, blindness, spinal cord injury, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease depend on the invaluable stem cells research that is carried out across the UK’s world-leading medical research institutes.
Note to editors:
In 2011, the European Commission’s published its 2nd Report on how EU states are implementing the EU’s principles governing the voluntary and unpaid donation of tissues and cells. The report found that overall EU states already comply with necessary measures to secure the quality and safety of tissues and cells and provide ethical standards to ensure a voluntary nature of donations. The Commission’s report can be found here:
The resolution by Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis comments on this Commission report and calls for stricter requirements for donations. The report which was voted on by the European Parliament today (11 September 2012) includes a Minority Opinion by the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and can be found here:
The report is not legally binding but indicates what the European Parliament would like to include in any further proposals by the European Commission.
My explanation of the ALDE position can be viewed here: