ESTOOLS Public Scientific Symposium – “Stem Cell Science, Ethics & Communications”
SESSION 5: Science, law and ethics
Commentary and take-home messages: Dr Marco Cappato (Member of European Parliament)
It is an honor to have a closing statement, not only for me but I think as a politician in general. In theory we should not even need to speak in a conference like that. Unfortunately there is this need. There is a big political problem, you know what the problem is and my only message to you is that this problem is completely open and it is very important to have very clear the positions at stake and the powers that are active on that issue. Senator Marino said very rightly that we have to find a common path. The 7th Framework Program was a compromise solution. The big mistake would be thinking that the compromise is done, the deal is done, we gave up the possibility to finance something, e.g. the therapeutic cloning, experiments on hybrids and so on, but we have won the possibility of using spare embryos and embryonic stem cells. This is not a permanent result; this is something that is already under attack now and it will be under attack in the next legislation because the 7th FP is until 2013 so the legislation that is starting in three weeks will decide on the rules for the next program. They are already discussing, they are already lobbying, they are already fighting and don’t think for not even a moment that everybody is happy with this compromise. The Vatican is working hard, all the lobbies around the Vatican are working hard to take some step backwards. The problem is: are the scientific community – or the 98% of the scientific community – and the patient associations willing to play their part, which is the fundamental part to win the battle which is already open? It means that there is no scientific reason why the therapeutic cloning should be excluded by the European Union with prejudice, that is before having scientific argument. There is neither politic nor scientific reason to accept the hypocrisy represented by the fact that the European Union can fund the projects after the destruction of the embryo, that sounds like: “You pay the destruction of the embryo with your own money - be it national, private or international, we don’t care – then, once you have done this, we can fund you”. This is the same hypocrisy that Senator Marino explained referring to the Italian system: the Italian system is made as such – as Outi Hovatta has probably already explained to you – that I sent to her some embryos on behalf of Luca Coscioni Association, maybe one day she could derive stem cell lines from them, those lines could be re-imported by Italy and then the Italian scientists would be allowed to make research on these lines… Does it make any sense? Of course it does not and it doesn’t make any sense that the European Union refuses to have anything to say about this first part: the destruction of the embryos, which are already destroyed or ready for the trash-bin. Ours was a compromise, a good compromise if we think of what the situation was before. If we want again a good compromise, maybe slightly better than this, we have to fight again to have a complete result, since the morality of politics is to accept compromises but not to accept compromise before, because if we think that this is a compromise which is valid for the future, there will be no money not even for embryonic stem cells. In fact I was in the Parliament during question times and every time Commissioner Potocnik was under questioning by Gay Mitchell and many others who were active, while we were not; they were continuously asking: “Why do you fund embryonic stem cell research?”. Commissioner Potocnik had to I dare say excuse himself, clearly stating that the European Union is funding projects on embryonic stem cell lines only when there is no alternative, a sort of last option. You have seen the data: the projects are growing but projects on embryonic stem cell lines that are funded by the EU are not growing in number and in money. There is already a political problem and what we organized with Elena Cattaneo and some other friends – some are here, some are not – is exactly what we called the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research. We have already held a founding session and then two more events; the last was held at the European Parliament, with the participation of Minister Gago from Portugal, Minister Soria from Spain and Commissioner Potocnik, exactly to bring together the scientific community, the patient community and the political community, to have a very explicit common goal, a common campaign. I would like to read very briefly some of the conclusions of this meeting, the final declaration which is for us, i.e. the Nonviolent Radical Party and Luca Coscioni Association, a commitment of campaign: “We the undersigned identify the following specific objectives to be pursued at all levels, transnational, national and local: 1) monitoring the state of freedom of research and cure; 2) strengthening or creation of policies, rules and jurisdictions including international and constitutional laws to define the freedom of research…”. “Constitutional” is very important because the founding rules of the EU include this principle, the Italian constitution does include it, hence we have to enforce the constitutional legal protection which makes completely illegal for example in Italy issues stating that only in theory we could make research on derived stem cell lines while in the reality the few people doing that only do that thank to the European money or the private one – in case there is someone crazy enough to give you money for that – because this the problem: if you defy the regime, even if you are a private subject, maybe you lose something else. Then those prohibitions, those restrictions are sometimes simply unconstitutional, against the law. Again: “3) Freedom of research on stem cells including a) overcoming the prohibition placed by the EU on the eligibility for financing of research obtained through the technique of the somatic cell nuclear transfer; b) overcoming the prohibition proposed although in a non-binding document at the United Nations…”. This is also very important, this is how we started: Luca Coscioni, a young researcher, who has now passed away but was the founder of Luca Coscioni Association, suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and when he launched his campaign against a Vatican, US and Italian resolution at the UN to have a global ban on all forms of cloning including therapeutic cloning, he obtained the support of 50 Nobel Prize Laureates for his candidature on the occasion of the Italian elections and 50 more Nobel for a total of 100 supporting the political move against this total ban. We obtained something: there is no binding total ban at the UN but there is still a negative declaration as a matter of principle. Maybe with the Obama’s administration and the support of the scientific community along with the patients we can change that too. And then of course: “4) The creation of an international network to help disseminating accurate information about the access to treatment in the world and protecting patients from any violation of the right to a safe efficacious treatment”. Senator Marino said and Paolo Bianco underscored that this is the moral issue, this is the ethical issue: I mean the dissemination of the benefits of the research. But what about Africa, what about South America, what about Asia then? Once we can be cured - be it thank to adult or embryonic stem cells, we don’t care, we are not fan of one type of research against the other -, wherever the results come from, what about the poor nations? And what about the control? So we don’t have to fear let’s say the ethical battle, but we think that the battle should be about rules, not about prohibitions. As for teaching of the scientific method, the director of the most important scientific journal in Turkey, Ms. Atakuman, was moved from her place because she wanted to publish an issue about Charles Darwin. Because of that she is no longer the director of that journal. I think that if there were an alert system, a rapid reaction system in the scientific community, together with politicians and scientists we could do something concrete so that such things may not happen again. There are many other things that I would like to say, I think that I can very well stop here. What I want to repeat for the third or fourth time is that what we need is a campaign. Please don’t fear politics because this is already a political issue. We should be explicit. The European Parliament is invaded by people knocking on every single door of Members of Parliament talking about why it is important not to kill potential people in the name of research, showing pictures of 4-5 month-old fetuses to say that we cannot allow this happening any longer with the European money, saying that it is outrageous… If we together with scientists and patients don’t knock on the same doors trying to explain the matter of fact which is at stake, this battle is still to be lost. I know that there are concrete hopes on new types of research, on induced pluripotent cells and so on. You know them much better than me, maybe in some years – you have probably already discussed it – they could help overcoming the ethical issue, but for the time being, for people who are waiting for cures or for people who will in the next years, are we allowed to say: “Just wait and see, maybe somebody else will solve this ethical issue”? No, I don’t think so, also because this issue can be related to many others, e.g. right to die. Senator Marino is a point of reference for us all on that in Italy. I don’t want to say that all is the same but the powers - or better the players - are almost the same and I think we have to play our part in the most open, clear and responsible way. Thank you very much.
@ 2009 Associazione Luca Coscioni. Tutti i diritti riservati
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|
Online Donations 2013
Freedom Of ResearchStem Cells/ California: Coscioni Association and MEp Cappato awarded at Stanford University for global initiative on freedom of scientific research
Freedom Of ResearchFreedom of scientific research must be a priority for Europe.
Freedom Of Research"FORUM ON FREEDOM OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION”
Freedom Of ResearchINVITATION TO PRESS. PREPARATORY MEETING ON THE WORLD CONGRESS FOR FREEDOM OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Dello stesso autore
11/13/2000 Privacy Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission
09/04/2002 Civil Rights Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission
03/09/2004 Privacy EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON THE FIRST REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DATA PROTECTION DIRECTIVE (95/46/EC) (COM(2003) 265 – C5-0375/2003 – 2003/2153(INI))
02/14/2002 Antiprohibition Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission
- 1 of 13
11/15/2005(EU) EP/RESEARCH: FREEDOM OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH MUST BE PROTECTED, SAY EP LIBERALS
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05/27/2009 Freedom Of Research ESTOOLS Public Scientific Symposium – “Stem Cell Science, Ethics & Communications”
07/03/2005 EVENTS/DEMONSTRATIONS Freedom Of Research Strasbourg : final attack against sotware patents ! Strasbourg : assaut final contre le brevet logiciel !
03/08/2005 Freedom Of Research U.N./DOCUMENTS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON HUMAN CLONING BY VOTE OF 84-34-37
11/20/2004 Freedom Of Research LETTERS Cloning: International Ban Defeated at the UN