Scientists at the German Research Foundation, or the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), called for review of the Stem Cell Act that denies access to new stem cell banks.
In a statement, the DFG said, 'The 2002 Stem Cell Act stands in urgent need of revision.' 'Due to the key date regulation and the penalties established in the Stem Cell Act of 2002, German researchers are denied access to new cell lines and, to a large extent, prevented from working in international projects.'
AdvertisementInternational stem cell research has made significant contribution in the field human embryonic stem cell research improving the knowledge on stem cell properties. According to the DFG, Germany cannot contribute much with its Stem Cell Act legal framework.
The DFG asks for access to new foreign stem cell lines that are generated from excess embryos. 'The introduction of cell lines should also be permitted, if these are to be used for diagnostic, preventive or therapeutic purposes,' it said. It also demanded that researchers should not be threatened with punishment.
The DFG also said it 'is and remains against reproductive cloning, but research into adult stem cells must also be further promoted as it represents a meaningful supplement to embryonic stem cell research.'
But, German Research Minister Annette Schavan, declined the demand. 'With the (2002) cut-off date we can be sure there is no pressure from Germany to destroy embryos,' she said, adding, however, that she would look at lifting the threat of punishment for scientists working on international projects.
Several scientists feel that German researchers are lagging when compared to their counterparts in other nations like U.K. where therapeutic cloning is permitted.
The Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft that was established in 1920 was the predecessor of the DFG. Counseling parliaments and public authorities on science and research is one of the tasks of the DFG.