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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.

7 Highlights from Nuffield Council’s Review on the Ethics of Genome Editingby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 18th, 2016A recent UK report discusses social and political implications of genetically engineering human reproduction and other controversial CRISPR applications.
Three-person baby 'race' dangerous[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by James GallagherBBCOctober 12th, 2016Scientists and ethicists warn of fertility doctors forum-shopping to perform dangerous mitochondrial manipulation experiments.
UK Bioethicists Eye Designer Babies and CRISPR Cowsby Heidi LedfordNature NewsSeptember 30th, 2016The Nuffield Council on Bioethics' new report on genome editing will be followed by recommendations on human germline applications in early 2017.
Find a Sperm Donor with This UK Appby Selena LarsonCNNMoneySeptember 28th, 2016The London Sperm Bank's new mobile app lets consumers choose sperm provider traits including eye color, hair color, and race.
Are Swedish Designer Babies Coming Soon?by Eric NiilerSeekerSeptember 23rd, 2016"What are the oversight and controls to prevent this technology from being misused and go to a stage that, for now, the scientific community has agreed is a no-go?"
New Surrogacy Bill Bars Married Couples with Kids, NRIs, Gays, Live-ins, Foreignersby Express News ServiceThe Indian ExpressAugust 25th, 2016The draft bill permits only "altruistic surrogacy" for childless couples who have been married for at least five years.
Scientists break 13-year silence to insist 'three-parent baby' technique is safeby Ian JohnstonThe IndependentAugust 11th, 2016The researchers conclude the technique "can produce a viable pregnancy." But the pregnancy they established resulted in miscarriage.
Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
Why gene-therapy drugs are so expensiveby N.L.The EconomistAugust 3rd, 2016British pharmaceutical company GSK announced it will charge US$665,000 for a gene therapy for ADA-SCID (aka "bubble boy disease").
How British are you? Mapped: DNA testing shows the most Anglo-Saxon regions in UK by Hannah FurnessThe Telegraph [UK]July 28th, 2016AncestryDNA reveals British people's genealogies vary by region and are less clearly defined than people tend to think.
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