Many consider the UK approach to human biotechnologies to be a model of comprehensive and responsible policy. Since its creation in 1990, a government agency called the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has set and enforced regulations for assisted reproductive technology and research involving human embryos. Observers often contrast this situation to the "Wild West" in the United States, where regulation and public oversight of these technologies are minimal.
Here, Dr. David King gives his views on government proposals that would reorganize the HFEA and set important new rules. King is a former molecular biologist and director of Human Genetics Alert, an independent watchdog group based in London.
By David King, PhD
In December, the UK government published a set of proposals that would reform the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act. The legislation dates from 1990; in recent years scientific developments and changes in social attitudes have made it increasingly outdated.
The government's proposals follow a public consultation on the law in 2005, and precede publication later this year of draft legislation, which will be scrutinized...