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Further legal protection for Human Embryo a step closer thanks to Citizens' Initiative

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Issued on behalf of Christian Concern & One of Us

Press Release

For Immediate Release

12 September 2013


Further legal protection for Human Embryo a step closer thanks to Citizens' Initiative

The prospect of a total ban on controversial EU funding for Human Embryo research moved a step closer this week as the pan-European ‘One of Us’ initiative secured its one millionth signature.

It is only the second petition to meet the requirements of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) since the EU adopted the scheme in February 2011 to increase democratic participation in its activities.

‘One of Us’ leaders will now be given an official public hearing in the European Parliament to outline the need for legislation and are guaranteed a formal response from the European Commission on its merits.

They will set out proposals to ban European funding for any research that destroys human embryos or involves the use of human embryonic stem cells.

The Initiative’s success comes as negotiations are underway over ‘Horizon 2020’, the EU’s research funding programme for the period 2014 – 2020. If the One of Us proposals are adopted they could have a dramatic impact on the future of the embryonic stem cell research industry across Europe.

Research on embryonic stem cells continues to raise huge ethical objections – in contrast to research on adult stem cells, which is considered non-controversial. Moreover, research on embryonic stem cells has not secured any of the breakthroughs achieved through adult stem cell research.

Nonetheless, under the existing funding framework, it is estimated that at least 22 million Euros of EU funding has been spent on controversial embryonic stem cell research between 2007 and 2012.

Under ECI rules petitions require the support of at least 1,000,000 EU Citizens within a twelve-month period. In addition, minimum targets in at least 7 EU States have to be hit.

Organisers hope that thousands more EU Citizens will add their names to the ‘One of Us’ petition before it officially closes on 1st November.

Speaking as today’s 1 million milestone was announced, Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern which is helping to co-ordinate ‘One of Us’ in the UK, said:

“We were all embryos once. Today is an historic day. People across Europe have spoken. They have responded to the simple truth that every Human Embryo is ‘One of Us’ and worthy of protection and honour. It's right that we take action to safeguard those who share our common humanity. Destroying human life is never justifiable. It's abhorrent and must be stopped.

“European political leaders wanted to encourage greater participation in EU decision making. Now they need to show that they are listening by taking on board these proposals.

“This is a new beginning not an endpoint. There is still time for thousands more to join the ‘One of Us’ movement, especially with the pan-European ‘click and sign’ day on 22nd September.”

ENDS.
 
For further information / interview:
Andrew Marsh - 07919 354 456
Andrea Minichiello Williams - 07712 591 164

Notes for Editors

The UK ‘One of Us’ site is available at www.oneofus.org.uk

The European ‘One of Us’ site is available at www.oneofus.eu

Official information about the European Citizens’ Initiative is available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/basic-facts

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