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First "three-parent babies" to be created in Britain

17 March 2017


Interference in the germ-line could affect countless future generations. Image: Rex features

A Newcastle fertility clinic has been given a licence by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out the controversial "three-parent baby" technique.

Read the SPUC blog - Three parent babies: What's going on?

It is the first time such a licence has been granted in the UK. The next step in the two-stage licensing process will be to consider the application relating to an individual patient.

Children as commodities

Dr Anthony McCarthy of SPUC and author of Cloning and Stem Cell Research explains the news, saying:

"This depressing but entirely foreseeable development puts into practice a technique known as 'pro-nuclear transfer'. This technique involves the gutting and destruction of two embryos to create a third 'combined' embryo - a clone of one of the first two who will have no genetic parents in the ordinary sense. Early human beings are treated by scientists as mere commodities, and the would-be parents, with their encouragement, are more concerned with ensuring 'quality' in any child born than with reverence for the gift of human life.

Embryos used for spare parts

"As so often with such developments, safety concerns, which bodies such as the HFEA claim to be paramount, are set aside. Actual interference in the germ-line, which could affect countless future generations, is now permitted in this country, where so many other countries sensibly restrict it.

"The granting of this licence entrenches the idea that eggs can be bought from women who will be cut off from the children to whom they also will have some genetic link. It worsens the situation for embryos, who are merely valued as sources of spare parts for 'improved' embryos 'designed' for would-be parents - who are in fact the full genetic parents of the embryo who is cloned and destroyed. And of course, such procedures do not even attempt to treat the mitochondrial problems some dishonestly claim they do."

News in brief:

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