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For Immediate Release: December 15th, 2016
Contact:  Marcy Darnovsky, 510-665-7760, ext 305
darnovsky[AT]geneticsandsociety[DOT]org


Comment on UK Decision to Move Ahead with “3-Person IVF”

[Press statement]

The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced today that it has given a green light for clinical use of highly controversial mitochondrial manipulation techniques for the purpose of preventing the births of children affected by mitochondrial disease.

Many scientists consider these techniques to be unsafe, with unknown health consequences for future generations. A number of recent studies have called attention to the immediate safety risks of these procedures, [1][2] variously known as “three-person IVF,” “mitochondrial replacement, and (most technically accurate) “nuclear genome transfer.”

"The HFEA presents itself as a model of responsible regulation, but its role in encouraging this risky biological experiment is deeply troubling. It has chosen to ignore the serious health risks these procedures pose for resulting children and future generations. It has failed to require follow-up studies of any children born as a result. And it has misconstrued public sentiment, representing deep divisions as ‘broad support,’” [3] said Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society.

Darnovsky continued, “This is not about saving children. As the U.S. National Academy of Medicine has pointed out, these techniques do not address a medical need, as they do not treat any existing person for a disease, illness, or condition. And safer options for creating families are already available.” [4]

“The HFEA decision is part of a disturbing trend toward the normalization of an experimental technology that is still widely considered unsafe, and whose implications for future generations are unknown,” Darnovsky asserted. “Allowing mitochondrial manipulation in humans could open the door to other forms of human inheritable genetic modification, banned in more than 40 countries worldwide.”

References

[1]Anchor 3-person embryos may fail to vanquish mutant mitochondria
http://www.nature.com/news/three-person-embryos-may-fail-to-vanquish-mutant-mitochondria-1.19948

[2]Anchor ‘3-parent baby’ procedure faces new hurdle
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ldquo-three-parent-baby-rdquo-procedure-faces-new-hurdle/

[3] AnchorBroad public support for ‘3-parent babies’ and crossing the human germline? Not what the data say
http://www.biopoliticaltimes.org/article.php?id=6757

 [4]Anchor Mitochondrial replacement techniques: ethical, social and policy considerations
http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2016/Mitochondrial-Replacement-Techniques.aspx

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The Center for Genetics and Society is a non-profit public affairs and policy advocacy organization working to encourage responsible uses and effective societal governance of human genetic and reproductive biotechnologies.

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