The UK seems to be pushing ahead toward what one stem cell biologist says would be an “historic mistake”: changing the country’s law against human inheritable genetic modification in order to allow fertility clinics to use experimental and highly controversial “3-person IVF” techniques, or nuclear genome transfer for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial diseases.
Scientists and science funders have been promoting the techniques and working toward the vote for several years. Now a Parliamentary vote is expected as soon as February. If the change is approved, the UK will become the only country in the world to explicitly allow any form of human inheritable genetic modification.
As the vote nears, senior lawyer and House of Lords member Daniel Brennan has raised legal questions about it. Brennan says that the new regulations would be “flawed and open to challenge” because they misrepresent the science involved in the procedure.
Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here are some articles about the substantial safety and social concerns about nuclear genome transfer, and the deeply flawed policy process that has brought the UK to this point:
Open letters and statements
- Letter to the HFEA Mitochondria Review Policy Team prepared by the Center for Genetics and Society and signed by 53 prominent scholars, scientists and advocates
- An open letter from stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler to UK Parliament, imploring that they heed safety concerns for any resulting children and “avoid historic mistake on rushing human genetic modification.”
- Statement from 34 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stating that this technique “is incompatible with human dignity and international law.”
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.