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EU Green Paper on Aging Falls Short of the Mark

The paper fails to recognize the problem and the potential solution.

Elderly crowdElderly crowd

By the year 2050, one in four Europeans will be aged 65 or over, which presents a number of challenges and possible opportunities for Europe’s rapidly aging society. To this end, the European Commission published the “Green paper on ageing – Fostering solidarity and responsibility between generations” back in January to encourage a broad policy debate on the topic.

As part of this initiative, the EU opened the topic up for public consultation and further discussion. You can find this green paper below or at the original source here.

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The silver tsunami is coming, and we are not ready

Unfortunately, like many other similar initiatives in the past, this green paper makes no mention of the potential of therapies that seek to target the aging processes directly. In general, world governments still remain largely oblivious of the role of medical research in the future of aging and how interventions might slow or even reverse it.

This is a real problem, because not only do green papers like this one cost considerable amounts of money to produce, they also contribute towards shaping future societal views and strategies regarding aging.

An aging population is going to become an increasing problem as we approach 2050, especially with many countries seeing a large decline of fertility and some even entering negative population growth. Some countries could soon face a situation where there are more older people than young and will struggle to cope with the burden on the healthcare and economic systems that this will bring. This is sometimes called the silver tsunami.

The growing number of old people relative to the overall population will put increasing pressure on pensions, socialized healthcare systems, and other entitlement systems. If something is not done to solve this problem, the situation will become unsustainable and socio-economic systems will be unable to cope in their current forms.

This is why it is absolutely critical that the inclusion and development of therapies to treat the causes of aging, to slow, delay, or even reverse aging must be part of that solution.

The green paper falls short of what needs to be done

We are not the only organization that considers this green paper to be inadequate, and biologist and bioinformatician Attila Csordas has responded to the call for discussion through his organization, the European Longevity Initiative (ELI). The ELI has published a response to the green paper entitled “EU Green Paper on Ageing is an attractive wish list, but the European Longevity Initiative is proposing the foundation”. You can find a copy of this response below or at the source here.

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This green paper is another disappointing example of just how much work our field has ahead of it in order to gain a place at the table in such discussions, as it makes the same mistakes as the WHO 2015 World Report on Aging and Health and the Decade of Healthy Aging initiative. The focus is on compensating for the consequences of aging rather than addressing the problem by developing rejuvenation biotechnology. We have a lot of work to do before things start changing on the level of international policy.

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About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.
  1. Donovan Breone
    April 26, 2021

    Speaking about the lack of policy on solving aging, as part of the conference for the future of Europe, Attila Csordas released on April 20 a proposal that recommends legal / budgetary and regulatory measures in order to effectively address the problem of aging and they started to establish contact with the politicians of the European Union who published the Green Paper on Aging.

    The proposed measures are as follows:

    1. Legal Commitment: Recognize the malleability of biological aging and the translational geroscience paradigm as the ultimate catalyst for age neutral human health in EU legislative DNA. This specific EU legislation can then be used to justify the other 3 derivative commitments throughout.

    2. Budget commitment: a significant portion of the EU R&D budget dedicated specifically to the development of science-intensive, healthy longevity technologies.

    3. Regulatory commitment: green light for goprotective clinical trials focused on aging on a European scale through specific and enabling EMA regulations.

    4. Institutional commitment: creation of a coordinated European research institute on healthy longevity in the EU Member States, supported by the 3 previous commitments.

    Currently, it is the most approved proposal of the entire conference with over 180 approvals and 26 comments all positive.

    If this proposal is accepted by the conference, it could have a real impact on aging policy.

    The conference is expected to reach conclusions in the spring of 2022, and as it is the most approved and one of the best received proposal to date, it is expected to fuel the debate on the subject.

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