Embryonic Stem Cell Method Denied Patent in EU Due to Embryo Destruction

Well, well, well: We are told that only the desire to impose religious belief stands in the way of the development of a thriving embryonic stem cell regenerative medical sector. That has always been wrong, but now there is vivid proof: The EU patent office has rejected a patent request for the primary method of deriving human embryonic stem cells. From the story:

This application describes a method for obtaining embryonic stem cell cultures from primates, including humans, and was filed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) in 1995.

In 2006, the Technical Board competent for the case referred legal questions to the EBoA, in order to obtain clarity on a number of points. Decisive in the EBoA ruling was the application’s claim regarding human stem cell cultures. The EBoA decided that under the EPC it is not possible to grant a patent for an invention which necessarily involves the use and destruction of human embryos. The EBoA stressed, however, that its decision does not concern the general question of human stem cell patentability…

The EPC does not allow patenting inventions whose commercial exploitation would be contrary to public order (“ordre public”) or morality. Furthermore, the Convention prohibits patenting on uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes.

Yes, using nascent human life as a natural resource should be considered against good public order and morality. And yes, the industrial use of embryos should not be protected by intellectual property law.

This doesn’t outlaw ESCR, of course. But it sure will send a chill to those who would use embryos commercially, including I think, human cloning researchers. In any event, let us hear no more about religious zealots imposing their will on rational modernists. Europe is as secular a culture as you will find in the world. And as we have written here before, given that billions have already been poured into ESCR through private, philanthropic, and public means, patent disputes–and technological difficulties–have been the primary causes of the sector’s stunted growth.

Expect this news not to be reported widely in the MSM. Gets in the way of the narrative, don’t you know.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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