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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.



Puffing Cryonics in New Scientist?by Pete ShanksJuly 13th, 2016New Scientist is a popular science magazine that sometimes prioritizes popularity over science.
Two Decades After Dollyby Pete ShanksJuly 12th, 201620 years after the first cloned mammal was born, the US still does not have legal prohibitions on cloned people, or on heritable human genetic modification.
Frozen Eggs and Heated Debatesby Angel Petropanagos, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJuly 12th, 2016What’s missing and what’s misrepresented in public debates about social egg freezing?
Uterus transplants: ‘My sister gave me her womb’ by Tim LewisThe Guardian July 10th, 2016Lolita Wästerlund is one of the first women in the world to have a uterine transplant.
First he pioneered a new way of making life. Now he wants to try it in peopleby Karen WeintraubSTATJuly 8th, 2016Three-parent IVF has been tried in monkeys, but further research is needed to fully assess safety and effectiveness.
Why science needs progressive voices more than ever by Alice BellThe GuardianJuly 6th, 2016After Brexit, science must speak up for those who have been marginalized.
Fertility experts urge UK to adopt new DNA screening for IVF embryos by Nicola DavisThe GuardianJuly 4th, 2016Research suggests embryos with more mitochondrial DNA may be less likely to lead to pregnancy.
What does Brexit mean for bioethics?by Xavier SymonsBioEdgeJune 25th, 2016The UK may not leave the Council of Europe, the umbrella organization for the Committee on Bioethics.
"Safe" call? My thoughts on the latest mitochondrial replacement paper by Ted MorrowTed's BlogJune 14th, 2016The reaction from many has been upbeat, but my reading of the paper is different. Despite all the warnings about mitonuclear mismatching, it is apparently glossed over by scientists and science communicators alike."
UK Researchers Now Say Three-Person Embryo Technique Doesn't Work; Propose New Methodby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJune 8th, 2016New research shows the mitochondrial manipulation technique recently legalized in the UK faces major unknowns.
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