The Spanish parliament has voted against a proposal to allow the use of embryonic stem cells (ES cells) from embryos created originally for in IVF. The proposal was put forward by the opposition Socialist party, who wanted the government to change an existing law that makes embryo research a serious offence. A government spokesman said that the proposal was rejected because an 'Advisory Committee on Ethics of Scientific and Technological Research' must be set up. He also said that future projects were not at risk because the government were 'aware of 40,000 spare embryos' in existence in Spain.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands has approved a new law allowing embryo research, including ES cell research, but not the use of therapeutic cloning. Dutch MPs have voted, after a year of debate, not to amend the Netherlands embryo bill to allow the possibility of creating embryos specifically for research. Scientists will be allowed to use embryos 'left over' from in vitro fertilisation techniques, but only where there is informed consent from a donor enabling them to do so and approval has been given by a central committee. Human cloning, embryonic sex selection and the combining of human and animal embryos remain prohibited.
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Spain closes the door on embryonic stem cell research