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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.



UK May Be Poised for “Historic Mistake” on “3-Person IVF”by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 22nd, 2015A Parliamentary vote is expected as soon as February.
Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests Should Come With a Health Warningby Jessica CussinsThe Pharmaceutical JournalJanuary 15th, 2015Genetic testing is appropriate in certain situations, but for healthy people as a way to predict disease, it is imprecise and comes with a number of risks.
New Three-Parent Baby Law ‘is Flawed and Open to Challenge’, says Senior Lawyerby Steve ConnorThe Independent [UK]January 14th, 2015The UK Government’s attempt to legalise so-called “three parent” babies is open to challenge by judicial review, warns international law expert Daniel Brennan.
Scientists Use Skin Cells to Create Artificial Sperm and Eggsby Ian SampleThe Guardian December 24th, 2014Researchers in Cambridge converted adult skin tissue into precursors for sperm and eggs.
Commercialized Conception Casualties: "Brave" Baby Making?by Mirah RibenHuffington PostDecember 22nd, 2014Hiring surrogates and purchasing sperm, eggs, or others' leftover frozen embryos have become accepted as choices on a menu of options.
European Court Opens Door for Stem Cell PatentingGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology NewsDecember 18th, 2014The European Court of Justice ruled that human embryonic stem cell patents could be allowed if organisms can't develop into human being.
Top Biopolitical Times Posts of 2014by Jessica Cussins & Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014In 2014, CGS staffers and contributors posted 107 blogs in Biopolitical Times. These are twelve of our favorites.
23andMe and the Future of Home DNA Testingby David McNameeMedical News TodayDecember 10th, 2014The Google-associated home DNA test company 23andMe will launch its kit in the UK. In the US, however, health results from 23andMe remain unavailable.
Controversial DNA Test Comes to UK[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Michelle Roberts and Paul RinconBBCDecember 2nd, 2014The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency says the 23andMe spit test can be used with caution. But critics say it may not be accurate enough to base health decisions on.
Deceptive Labeling of a Radical Embryo Construction Techniqueby Stuart A. NewmanThe Huffington PostDecember 1st, 2014The British Parliament appears poised to give the go-ahead to a set of techniques for generating infants which, if implemented, would constitute the first cases of large-scale human genetic engineering.
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