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Experts Slam UK Decision to Allow Human-Animal Embryos, Relax Rules

Genetic Crossroads
May 31st, 2007

Caroline Flint, the public health minister, defended the report

The British government on May 17 released its draft recommendations for overhauling regulation of assisted reproduction and embryo research. Many changes were proposed, though the most noticed was the lifting of research prohibitions on creating several kinds of human-animal embryos.

Most of the alterations appear to loosen the law in ways for which scientists have been lobbying. The Scotsman's article on the overhaul opened, "The government yesterday bowed to pressure from scientists to allow the creation of hybrid animal-human embryos for stem-cell research."

Human Genetics Alert director Dr. David King criticized the draft's proposal to allow genetically modified human embryos. "Do not be fooled by the claim that this is 'just research,' King told the Daily Mail. "While we have been preoccupied with the mouse of animal-human hybrids, the elephant of GM embryos is about to waltz through the door...Once we start down the path to GM babies, it will become very hard to turn back."

More on the UK proposal:

"Important changes in UK law on reproductive and genetic technologies," Genetic Crossroads (January 26, 2007)

"Q&A: The human tissue and embryo bill," Guardian Unlimited (May 17, 2007)

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