Greenpeace pushes EU to restrict stem cell patents

AP reported yesterday that a ruling of the EU’s top court severely restricts biotech companies from turning a profit on stem cell patents in which embryos are used.   Surprisingly, the court responded not to religious groups or anti-abortion groups, but to the environmental group Greenpeace.  Greenpeace had challenged a 1997 patent on a technique developed by a German researcher to turn embryonic stem cells into nerve cells.  The basis of the suit is a concern that “patents on plants and animals could lead to monopolies in food production.”  Greenpeace spokesman Christoph Then said the lawsuit was “an effort to get a clear, legal definition of what constitutes a living embryo.”  Essentially the court objected to any stem cell technique used exclusively for research, saying such use of embryos is “not patentable” and that “the law protects human embryos from any use that could undermine their dignity.”   Follow the link for the whole AP story.

Barbara Freres