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About United Kingdom Policies & Human Biotechnology


The United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), established in 1991, is often considered a model for regulating and overseeing human biotechnologies. It licenses and monitors all research involving human embryos, and all facilities offering in vitro fertilization or storage of eggs, sperm, or embryos. UK law does not permit certain activities involving human embryos.

The HFEA's 21 members are appointed by UK Health Ministers; at least half of them are required to be neither doctors nor scientists involved in human embryo research or infertility treatment.

To grant a research license, the HFEA must be satisfied that the use of human embryos is "necessary or desirable" for an enumerated purpose. The HFEA inspects licensed clinics annually; produces a Code of Practice that guides clinics on proper conduct; keeps a formal registry for donors, treatments, and children born; and conducts public consultations on controversial applications.



Setting the record straightby Martin H. JohnsonReproductive BioMedicine OnlineDecember 1st, 2016A senior editor writes about some shoddy scientific journalism on mitochondrial transfer that was published in his own journal.
Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
'No solid evidence' for IVF add-on successby Deborah CohenBBC PanoramaNovember 28th, 2016A year-long study finds that nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics are unreliable, misleading, and risky.
Seeding Doubt: How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industryby Liza GrossThe InterceptNovember 15th, 2016Sense About Science has downplayed concerns about industry-funded research and promoted science that favors private interests over public health.
UK's national sperm bank stops recruiting donorsby Laura LeaBBCOctober 27th, 2016A joint project set up with a small government grant in response to couples turning to foreign markets for sperm yielded only seven donors.
3-person IVF and Infertility: What Kind of Slippery Slope is This?by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesOctober 26th, 2016To what extent has anticipation of using 3-person IVF for infertility been part of the story from the start? While we can't know for sure, here are some possible connections.
The Cash Cow in 'Fertility' Medicineby Pamela M TsigdinosHealthcare in AmericaOctober 23rd, 2016The unregulated fertility industry often fails to disclose: lucrative profits, poor outcomes, emotional burdens, and medical risks.
7 Highlights from Nuffield Council’s Review on the Ethics of Genome Editingby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 18th, 2016A recent UK report discusses social and political implications of genetically engineering human reproduction and other controversial CRISPR applications.
Three-person baby 'race' dangerous[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by James GallagherBBCOctober 12th, 2016Scientists and ethicists warn of fertility doctors forum-shopping to perform dangerous mitochondrial manipulation experiments.
UK Bioethicists Eye Designer Babies and CRISPR Cowsby Heidi LedfordNature NewsSeptember 30th, 2016The Nuffield Council on Bioethics' new report on genome editing will be followed by recommendations on human germline applications in early 2017.
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