Friday, March 27, 2009

News you may have missed:
EU directive would protect animals from lab tests—at expense of human embryos

From the UK Catholic Herald:

The European Union is to radically restrict laboratory testing on animals - by insisting human embryos are used by scientists for research instead.

Toxicology tests on animals will be permitted only after similar research on tissue taken from human embryos has proved fruitless, according to a proposed new directive from the European Commission (EC).

Before scientists can test any new medicines on animals they will first have to determine that no other method is "reasonably or practicably available". Such methods, according to the EC, include testing human embryonic stem cells - a procedure controversial in most European countries because the embryos are destroyed during the process of extraction of such tissue. If the EC directive is approved by MEPs next month it will be binding on all 27 EU member states, including Britain. ...

Katharina Schauer of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (Comece) said that the directive "may have the possible outcome of obliging member states to use certain toxicology tests aimed at reducing animal testing, and so involve the use of human embryonic stem cells".

"This would constitute a blatant break from the current stance of the European institutions, which thus far have always tried to respect member states' rights to determine in each country whether research using human embryonic stem cells is allowed or not," she said, adding that the EC aimed to push the directive through with minimal debate.

"The problem is that the destruction of human embryos, which currently are the unavoidable source for the production of human embryonic stem cells, is considered a lesser evil than animal testing practices," Miss Schauer said. [Read the full story.]
This reminds me of the two-sentence summary of human history popularized by Mark Shea:

1. What could it hurt?
2. How were we supposed to know?