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Genetic Crossroads
March 31st, 2005

In a disturbing development, the Science and Technology Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons has issued a report calling for extensive relaxation of the already liberal policies adopted in the UK regarding new human reproductive and genetic technologies, including its ban on human reproductive cloning. The report also recommended abolishing the UK's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The HFEA is regarded by many experts as a model of socially responsible governance of human genetic technologies. Civil society organizations, including Genewatch-UK, have issued statements condemning the report (see below).

"MPs say lift ban on reproductive human cloning," The Observer (Mar. 20)
"In a report into human embryo research in Britain, the commons science and technology committee will suggest that human embryos could be implanted into animals for research purposes. It will also say parents should be allowed to chose the sex of their child for 'social reasons' ... [T]he committee goes even further by suggesting they should be free to 'genetically modify' human embryos to allow couples to create designer babies, and in some cases be allowed to choose the sex of their child."

"Baby sex choice is a 'private matter'," The Herald (Mar. 25)
"MPs on the committee were divided over the issue. Half refused to put their names to the final report, which recommends parents be given the last word on embryo screening and selection."

Statement by Genewatch-UK: Allowing sex selection leaves door wide open for designer babies
"Currently, making decisions about whether genetic tests on embryos are allowed is based on the implications for the future health of the baby. If people can chose the sex of their baby on purely social grounds, there can be no reason to deny people making other choices about the eye or hair colour of their babies if the tests become available", said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director. "The Science and Technology Committee do not seem to have considered the inevitable consequences of their recommendations".


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