The Waldensian community in Italy has decided that next year, it will double its so-called “eight per thousand” allocation from the Italian government to embryonic stem cell research projects, increasing funds from 50,000 euros in 2007 (declared in 2004) to 100,000 euros in 2008 (declared in 2005), said Maria Bonafede, the moderator of the Waldensian executive committee, presenting the group’s 2009 campaign to allocate “eight per thousand” funds. “Eight per thousand” is an Italian law in which 0.8% of the personal income tax collected is redistributed to the Italian government and various religious groups.
With this mechanism, the Waldensian and Methodist churches received 1.6% of the total funds in 2008, totaling 6.9 million euros. Two stem cell projects are sponsored by the Waldensians, out of the 250 projects financed abroad and in Italy thanks to their “eight per thousand” revenue. The first is a study at the University of Bologna to which the Waldensian church destined 50,000 euros in 2007, which increased to 100,000 euros in 2008. The other project is an embryonic stem cell study at the University of Milan. “In Italy, this type of research is very expensive,” explained Paolo Naso, the head of advertising for the Waldensian community’s eight per thousand funding program, “and money is needed to buy stocks of embryonic cells from abroad”.