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stem cell research raises its head as an SRI issue

June 2005

Shareholder activists in the US have signalled they believe stem cell research could become a hot topic for socially responsible investors.

The Washington DC based Investor Responsibility Research Center, which published guidance on the issue last month, says there are signs that US investors are now ‘grappling with the ethical, scientific and financial decisions associated with investments in companies conducting stem cell research’.

Craig Metrick, director of corporate benchmarking at IRRC, said that while there were moral issues ‘inextricably linked to the controversies surrounding abortion and cloning’, most institutional investors ‘are struggling to develop a policy regarding investments in this fast-paced field’.

Stem cell research uses cells derived from human foetal tissue, human embryos or cloned human embryos, umbilical cord blood and adult stem cells to investigate ways of developing treatments for chronic and degenerative diseases.

Among the 40 publicly traded companies in the US identified by IRRC as being involved in such research are Amgen, Eli Lilly, Geron, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi-Aventis.

There appear to be fewer signs that stem cell research is, or will become, a significant issue for the SRI community in Europe.

Ethical Investment Research Services, Europe’s biggest provider of SRI data to institutional and private investors, told EP: ‘We have had some interest in the topic from Irish clients but it’s not an area that we’re going to develop criteria for. It seems to be something of a US quirk.’




Further Information
http://www.irrc.com
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