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A loophole in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill could permit some reproductive cloning without the need for fresh primary legislation, the Government has admitted.

While the update to fertility law maintains the ban on creating cloned babies, it has inadvertently made it much simpler for ministers to overturn it. If a reproductive cloning technique could be shown to be suitable for preventing the birth of children suffering from a rare type of genetic disease, it could be cleared for clinical use without changing the statute book.

Ministers would simply have to issue new regulations that permit this application of cloning. These would then need to be approved by a simple vote of both Houses of Parliament, instead of the laborious primary legislation required at present.

Reproductive cloning involves placing the nucleus of an adult cell into an empty egg, and then implanting the cloned embryo into a woman's womb. Any resulting baby would be genetically identical to the DNA donor. The procedure is banned under the 2001 Reproductive Cloning Act which was introduced because of scientists' fears about safety...