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Bioethics, law and the regulation of biotechnologies in the European Union: the case of umbilical cord stem cell banking

This project aims to provide an analysis of the influence of non-statutory expert bioethics bodies on the formulation of law, policy and regulation of biotechnologies in the European Union (EU). Negotiations about the ethics of biotechnologies have the potential to impact on formal national law and regulatory regimes. These dynamics will be explored via a case study of a recent controversy about the ethics of commercial umbilical cord stem cell banking.

The activities of commercial ‘cord blood banks’ have been of significant concern in Europe, where the issue was first raised in the European Parliament by 2001, and discussed by the European Group on Ethics. These companies advertise the possibility of banking of cord blood in case it may be of value in the future to children or their siblings. The speculative nature of claims of future value, and the threat to the traditional basis of public blood banking are amongst the objections raised by these bodies, which have sought to influence law and regulation of these activities.

Methods deployed include a review of policy and academic literature, scrutiny of EU policy documents, interviews with EU bioethics advisors and other relevant actors, and the tracking of relevant legislative proposals.

  • Outputs (6)