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About United Kingdom Policies & Human Biotechnology


The United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), established in 1991, is often considered a model for regulating and overseeing human biotechnologies. It licenses and monitors all research involving human embryos, and all facilities offering in vitro fertilization or storage of eggs, sperm, or embryos. UK law does not permit certain activities involving human embryos.

The HFEA's 21 members are appointed by UK Health Ministers; at least half of them are required to be neither doctors nor scientists involved in human embryo research or infertility treatment.

To grant a research license, the HFEA must be satisfied that the use of human embryos is "necessary or desirable" for an enumerated purpose. The HFEA inspects licensed clinics annually; produces a Code of Practice that guides clinics on proper conduct; keeps a formal registry for donors, treatments, and children born; and conducts public consultations on controversial applications.



Procedure to Create Babies with Three People's DNA Could be Legalised in Aprilby Ian SampleThe Guardian July 22nd, 2014Government to press ahead with regulations on mitochondrial transfer after public consultation, but several hurdles remain.
Safety Concerns Remain Over Three-Person IVFby Ted MorrowThe GuardianJuly 22nd, 2014Using mitochondrial replacement therapy to create embryos with DNA from three people could have serious consequences.
Scientists Threaten to Boycott €1.2bn Human Brain Projectby Ian SampleThe GuardianJuly 6th, 2014Researchers say a European commission-funded initiative to simulate the human brain suffers from 'substantial failures.'
The Brave New World of Three-Parent I.V.F.[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Kim TingleyNew York Times MagazineJune 27th, 2014The historic nature of the moment has turned the technique into a symbol, a red line separating humanity from a dystopian or progressive future, depending on how you look at it.
Selling the Next False Hope? How Experimental IVF Techniques Could be Legalized Despite Increasing Evidence of Potential Harmby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 24th, 2014Contrary to official reports, new evidence shows that “3-person IVF” could pose serious risks to women and children. So why are we being told that it’s a “not unsafe” option?
Three Parents and a Baby - Scientists Advise Caution with Regard to Artificial Insemination MethodHealth CanalJune 18th, 2014One mitochondrial type may be able to assert itself against the other. If the assertive one happens to carry the defective mtDNA, the benefit of the therapy would be jeopardized.
Lord Winston Criticises 'Jungle' World of British Fertility Treatmentby Steve ConnorThe IndependentJune 15th, 2014In his strongest attack yet on the UK's "incompetent" IVF watchdog, the fertility medicine pioneer says the field is now being driven by profit, often at the expense of patients.
Should Three People be Allowed to Make a Baby?by Arielle Duhaime-RossVergeJune 12th, 2014Researchers might soon make a child with three genetic parents, but the ethics of "designer babies" haven't been worked out.
"Three-Person IVF" Update Reveals How Little We Knowby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostJune 5th, 2014The UK fertility regulator has been saying the techniques are "not unsafe" for three years now. This should not be interpreted to mean that they are in fact safe.
"3-Person IVF” Update Reveals How Little We Knowby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJune 5th, 2014A new report on the safety and efficacy of three-person IVF confirms that it would be dangerous and misguided to allow these techniques into UK fertility clinics anytime soon.
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