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Dismay, Confusion Greet Human Stem Cell Patent Ban

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Science  28 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6055, pp. 441-442
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6055.441

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Has the environmental group Greenpeace dealt a major blow to the medical use of human embryonic stem (hES) cells in Europe? That's what biologists, patent specialists, and lawyers are furiously debating after the European Union's Court of Justice ruled last week that processes and products that involve such cells are not patentable. Patents on hES cells are forbidden by a 1998 E.U. Directive on biopatents that bans the "use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes," the court concluded in a case that Greenpeace had initiated.