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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.



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.
He May Have Unravelled DNA, but James Watson Deserves to be Shunnedby Adam RutherfordThe GuardianDecember 1st, 2014The scientist is crying poverty and selling his Nobel prize medal, but why should anyone be interested in his racist, sexist views?
Exclusive: First Gene Therapy Drug Sets Million-Euro Price Recordby Ludwig Burger and Ben HirschlerReutersNovember 26th, 2014The Western world's first gene therapy drug is set to go on sale in Germany with a $1.4 million price tag, a new record for a medicine to treat a rare disease.
Why Worry About Genetically Modified Babies?by Marcy Darnovsky and Jessica CussinsGeneWatchNovember 24th, 2014The terms "genetically modified babies" and "designer babies" are attention-getters. But beyond the catchy sound bites, what do they really mean - and are they something we need to worry about?
Human Germline Modification in the UK? Cries of Caution from all Cornersby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 201475% of submissions about three-person IVF to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee warn that more evidence is needed prior to offering these techniques.
Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questionsby Rob SteinNPRNovember 10th, 2014It would be the first time genetic changes have been made in human DNA that would be passed on, down the generations, through the germline.
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