Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-11-29-Speech-4-010"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, do we wish Europe to become a museum? This was the question put by one of my colleagues in the Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, having studied the report on human genetics. This debate raises many ethical issues and possesses many ethical dimensions. On the one hand, we have the important ethical dimension of respect for human dignity and for the individual and, on the other, an ethically motivated desire to relieve suffering. It is the first of these dimensions, that of respect for the individual, which has dominated the committee’s report. Although we are not now debating legislation, we are sending important signals to those concerned with these issues, that is, the research community and people with illnesses. Are we signalling to the research community that it is hardly worth trying to carry out promising stem cell research in Europe? Are we signalling to patients suffering illnesses that currently cannot be cured or treated that we do not wish to explore avenues of research which might lead to relief for them? As Liberals, we have the greatest respect for knowledge and research, including stem cell research. At this stage, we do not know the exact implications for humans, but animal experiments have produced promising results. We must not, therefore, rule out embryonic stem cell research. Rather, it must be able to proceed in parallel with research into other stem cells, as parallel research will enable us to increase our knowledge base. Each needs the other. We believe that public support for research is vital in order to ensure that the results benefit as broad a range of people as possible and, indeed, the whole world. We should have liked to have seen the sixth framework programme for research support therapeutic cloning. A total ban on certain forms of research leads to greater risks of abuse and risk-taking. There are certainly elements of the research which ought to be monitored by public bodies, and I believe that public support also increases the opportunities for such monitoring. The Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party thinks it is vital for discussions to continue and, above all, to be conducted in greater depth. However, no one should have a monopoly on ethical issues. Personally, I am highly sceptical of the way in which the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, which advises the Commission, has been operating. Its work has certainly not been conducted openly. Nor do I believe that critical debate has been permitted within the group. In Parliament too, we must consider the matter in much greater depth than we were able to do in the temporary committee, particularly in terms of issues such as insurance, genetics and working conditions. However, the genetics debate should be conducted in the committees in order to achieve a greater balance of views than is currently the case. Finally, I should like, on behalf of the Group of the Europe Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, to state that we are unable to vote in favour of the report in its current form. Only if certain amendments are adopted in the final report shall we be able to offer our support."@en1

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