Date and time: 21 March 2012, 9:30 – 15:15
Venue: Carlsberg Akademi; Gamle Carlsbergvej 15, 2500 Valby
Objective: In October 2011, European Court of Justice decided to reject patents on human embryonic stem cells. The objective of this symposium is to explore this decision and discuss the legal, ethical and scientific implications
Background: On 18 October 2011 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its keenly awaited decision in Case Brüstle v Greenpeace. Interpreting the provisions of the so-called EU Biotech Directive, the Court ruled that a process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyt stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented. This seminal judgment, which complements a similar decision by the European Patent Office from 2008 (WARF), is now applicable in all EU member states and there is principally no appeal possible. Since much research in this area depends on private funding, fears have been expressed by European researchers and industry stakeholders that this decision might result in a serious scientific brain drain. In the debate it is also often argued that modified adult stem cells still cannot completely substitute the use and potential of embryonic stem cells. Others point towards recent advances in the re-programming of adult stem cells as potential alternatives. There is further considerable debate concerning the ethical implications of this decision, as many embryonic stem cells are deliberately discarded in in-vitro fertilisation procedures.
The symposium is jointly organised by Biopeople (Niels Westergaard) and the Copenhagen Biotech and Pharma Forum (CBPF) and the Centre for Information and Innovation Law (CIIR) (Timo Minssen) in co-operation with SHARE and Center for Medical Research Methology (CMRM) (Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen)