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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.



With World Watching, UK Allows Experiments to Genetically Alter Babiesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMarch 4th, 2015Despite several possibly insurmountable legal and safety hurdles, the House of Lords gave the final approval needed to move into fertility clinics the embryo modification techniques referred to as “mitochondrial donation.”
Reproduction 3.0by Leah RamsayBerman Institute of Bioethics BulletinFebruary 26th, 2015Bioethics scholars discuss the science and ethics of the UK vote to allow mitochondrial manipulation procedures.
Mitochondrial Gene Therapy Passes Final U.K. Vote[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Gretchen VogelScience InsiderFebruary 24th, 2015The technique is controversial because the modified DNA would be passed on to future generations.
The Truth about Mitochondrial Replacementby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsFebruary 23rd, 2015If we are to have honest conversation about possible benefits and harms of mitochondrial replacement, we should start by acknowledging that discussions to date have been a distraction.
Blog: Three Parent IVFby Dr Trevor StammersSt Mary’s University BlogFebruary 16th, 2015At our current stage of understanding of the interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, this proposed new therapy could turn out to be a monstrous mistake.
Mitochondrial Mission Creep and the Cloning Connection by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesFebruary 14th, 2015Shoukhrat Mitalipov wants to use nuclear genome transfer for age-related infertility. He has joined forces with the disgraced stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk.
ADF to European Parliament: UK ‘Three-Parent Embryo’ Legislation IllegalGlobal DispatchFebruary 13th, 2015Couples can be helped without tampering with the building blocks of humanity. The issue comes down to fundamental human rights and the constitutional traditions of the member states.
Britain is on the Brink of a Perilous Vote for 'Three-Person In Vitro Fertilization'by Marcy Darnovsky and Jessica CussinsLos Angeles TimesFebruary 8th, 2015Crossing this threshold raises a profound societal question that until now has been hypothetical: As biotechnologies improve and enable us to make more specific genetic changes in our offspring, how far will we go?
Big Data and Privacy Rightsby Xavier SymonsBioEdgeFebruary 7th, 2015A review of the British Government’s "care.data" scheme has found that the existing privacy framework needs major revision.
UK Set to Legalize Babies With DNA From 3 Parents[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]KQED RadioFebruary 6th, 2015Bay Area public radio discusses the technology and whether the U.S. and other countries may follow Britain's lead.
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