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Monash Bioeth Rev. 2015 Dec;33(4):265-76. doi: 10.1007/s40592-015-0050-y.

Biobanking human embryonic stem cell lines: policy, ethics and efficiency.

Holm S1,2,3.

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Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.
Centre for Medical Ethics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.


Stem cell banks curating and distributing human embryonic stem cells have been established in a number of countries and by a number of private institutions. This paper identifies and critically discusses a number of arguments that are used to justify the importance of such banks in policy discussions relating to their establishment or maintenance. It is argued (1) that 'ethical arguments' are often more important in the establishment phase and 'efficiency arguments' more important in the maintenance phase, and (2) that arguments relating to the interests of embryo and gamete donors are curiously absent from the particular stem cell banking policy discourse. This to some extent artificially isolates this discourse from the broader discussions about the flows of reproductive materials and tissues in modern society, and such isolation may lead to the interests of important actors being ignored in the policy making process.


Commercial interests; Embryo; Embryo donation; Exploitation; Gamete donation; Human embryonic stem cells; Stem cell banks

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