EU Animal Protection Policy Could Threaten Human Embryos

European Bishops: Respect Difference Between Animals and Human Dignity

BRUSSELS, June 11, 2010 -- The Council of Ministers of the European Union is about to formally adopt a draft directive with a provision that would require laboratories to avoid testing that uses living animals but leaves the door open for using stem cells from living embryos as an alternative. The Commission of European Bishop Conferences (COMECE) has issued a statement charging, "some Member States which have no explicit legislation on human embryonic stem cells could be obliged under this legislation to apply testing methods involving such ethically contentious cells."

The European bishops said, "This provision in the draft directive therefore raises the question as to whether the EU's animal protection policy glosses over the fundamental difference between animals and the dignity of humans beings."

COMECE has called on the Council to explicitly exclude from the alternative testing methods any which involve the use of human embryonic and fetal cells, respecting Member States' competences regarding their own ethical decisions.

COMECE furthermore called on the EU legislative body and on the European Commission to engage in honest and open debate, both with regard to the scientific alternatives (for example, the use of other, non-embryonic human stem cells), and also to the fundamental ethical question as to whether society sanctions the destruction and instrumentalisation of human embryos in order to minimise animal testing.

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