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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.



New Poll Finds Only 18% of British Adults in Support of "3-Person IVF"by Jessica CussinsBiopolitcal TimesSeptember 15th, 2014A newly released poll finds substantial reluctance among British public to change UK law to allow the genetic modification of future generations.
Myth Replacement Therapy: MPs Debate the Science of Mitochondriaby Dr Ted MorrowBioNewsSeptember 8th, 2014There are clearly misconceptions about mitochondrial genetics repeated during the debate that are not supported by current scientific evidence.
"3-Person IVF" Debated in UK Parliamentby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesSeptember 3rd, 2014The debate in Britain over combining eggs or embryos to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease received a public airing, though no firm conclusion, in the House of Commons on September 1st.
Britain will be considered a 'rogue state' if it creates GM people, MP warnsPress AssociationSeptember 1st, 2014Allowing mitochondrial replacement therapy to prevent the birth of children with incurable diseases could lead to people being created for 'harvesting their parts'
British baby Gammy: Surrogate claims mum refused to take disabled twinby Ellen WallworkParentDishAugust 26th, 2014A British surrogate mother of twins has said the intended mother rejected one of the babies because she was born with a disability.
Medical dilemma of 'three-parent babies': Fertility clinic investigates health of teenagers it helped to be conceived through controversial IVF techniqueby Steve ConnorThe Independent (UK)August 25th, 2014A private fertility clinic in the United States has launched an investigation into the health of 17 teenagers who were born as a result of a controversial IVF technique that produced the world’s first “three-parent” embryos more than 15 years ago.
Should We Open the Door to Genetically Modified Babies?by Jessica CussinsCNBCAugust 11th, 2014There has been a lot of confusion around this controversial issue, but as we are now facing a historic crossroads, it is important to set the record straight.
Genetic Testing of Citizens: A Backdoor Into Total Population Surveillance by Governments, Companiesby Helen WallaceEpoch TimesAugust 3rd, 2014The new Chief Executive of England's National Health Service wants to make people’s personal genetic information the basis of their treatments.
Genome Project Will Transform Cancer Careby Ian SampleThe Guardian [UK]July 31st, 2014About 40,000 patients with cancer and rare diseases will have their genomes sequenced, which David Cameron claims will transform how serious diseases are diagnosed and treated.
Eugenic Policies of the Past Teach Sobering Lessonsby Calum MacKellarThe ScotsmanJuly 24th, 2014The support of Scottish thinkers for eugenics is revealed in a new book entitled The Ethics of the New Eugenics.
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