An Italian court has informed scientists that they have no right to demand a halt to a call for research proposals that specifically excludes the use of human embryonic stem cells — even though their use is legal.

The researchers had objected when the exclusion was added by politicians to a text agreed by a committee of scientific experts (see Nature 460, 19; 2009). They argued that it contravenes a constitutional right to freedom of research.

The court said that only research institutes, not individuals, were eligible to object. The scientists are appealing against the decision in a higher court.