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Hollande pledges to overturn stem cell law

François Hollande, the Socialist Party’s candidate for the 2012 presidential elections, has said he would overturn an effective ban on stem cell research if elected.

During a visit to the Genopole biotechnology park in Evry on 22 February, Hollande said that one of his first priorities as president would be to call on parliament to revisit the 2011 bioethics law. The legislation upholds a ban on embryonic stem cell research except where no alternatives are available and then only under strict conditions.

Hollande spoke out against the system of making permissions to carry out research the exception rather than the rule.

“Where is the clarity, the honesty or the courage in this way of working?” he asked.

He argued that in banning such research, France risks losing its advantage in therapeutic innovation.

“There is no serious reason to oppose it,” he said. “An embryonic stem cell is not an embryo. There is no ethical objection that can be made to allowing researchers to work on cells that were intended to be destroyed anyway.”

Scrapping the ban would enable the country to catch up with rivals that had left it behind, including the UK and the US, he added, as well as attracting back researchers who have gone to work abroad.

Hollande said that research would continue to be monitored by the national Biomedicines Agency in order to avoid the “marketisation of the human body”.