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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.



A Cautious Approach to Mitochondrial Replacementby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsFebruary 3rd, 2016While the motivation with mitochondrial replacement (MRT) is distinct from cloning, the transfer technology is the same. MRT can legitimately be seen as a “quiet way station” in which to refine the techniques essential for other genetic interventions (including cloning).
Britian has jumped the gun on gene editing by Donna DickensonTelegraph [UK]February 2nd, 2016Particularly where the germline of humanity as a whole is concerned, caution and cooperation should prevail.
We Are Not Ready to Edit Human Embryos Yetby J. Craig VenterTimeFebruary 2nd, 2016Due to our insufficient knowledge, the slippery slope to human enhancement, and the global ban on human experimentation, we need to better understand the software of life before we begin re-writing this code.
U.K. Scientists Given OK to Use ‘Gene Editing’ on Human Embryos[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by David MillsHealthlineFebruary 1st, 2016The experiments raise raised concerns over the possibility that “designer babies” will eventually be produced by using gene editing to alter the DNA of embryos.
Britain approves controversial gene-editing experiments[cites CGS’s Marcy Darnovsky]by Maria ChengAssociated PressFebruary 1st, 2016"This is the first step on a path that scientists have carefully mapped out towards the legalization" of genetically modified babies, said David King of Human Genetics Alert.
Center for Genetics and Society statement on UK approval of Gene Editing research using Human Embryos[Press statement]February 1st, 2016“Is today's decision part of a strategy to overturn the widespread agreement that puts genetically modified humans off limits?”
A Monkey Circles in a Cageby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 29th, 2016Researchers created transgenic monkeys with a gene duplication associated with Rett Syndrome autism in humans, raising concerns of the limits and ethics of using animal models in biomedical research.
Who's Looking to Profit from Human Germline Changes?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 28th, 2016Billionaire Randal Kirk has assembled the components to commercialize heritable human genetic modification.
Genetic Issues at the London Sperm Bankby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJanuary 22nd, 2016The policy of turning away potential sperm donors with infectious diseases and “genetic issues” signals to people living with dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and other human variation that they are unwanted in the present and the future.
End of the 'Test Tube Baby' as New Technique Allows IVF Fertilisation in Wombby Sarah KnaptonThe Telegraph [UK]January 19th, 2016The technique involves placing egg and sperm cells into a tiny silicone capsule and inserting it into the womb.
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