By Gudrun Schultz
LONDON, United Kingdom, December 12, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – British researchers would be permitted to create human/animal embryo hybrids using test tube technology, under sweeping new proposals to be introduced by government health officials this week, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.
Known as “chimeras”, the embryos would be produced by combining human and animal genetic material within a laboratory setting—the North East England Stem Cell Institute has already requested permission to create an embryo that is part human and part cow.
“The overarching aim is to pursue the common good through a system broadly acceptable to society,” British Health Minister Caroline Flint said in a report on the policy changes obtained by the Sunday Telegraph.
Other changes include removing the current requirement that a child’s need for a father must be considered when a woman seeks fertility treatment. Single women and lesbian couples would have the same access to fertility treatments as heterosexual couples.
Screening embryos for genetic conditions which have the potential to lead to “serious medical conditions, disabilities or miscarriage” would be allowed, as would screening embryos in order to select a child that would be a tissue match for a sibling suffering from a “life-threatening illness.”
However, screening for sex selection would not be permitted under any circumstances.
The new proposals would also forbid the creation of a human embryo by using the genetic material from two women, bypassing the need for a male.
The new measures are intended to upgrade the 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act, paralleling advances in science and ensuring the law is “fit for purpose in the early 21st century.
Under the new proposals, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority would be replaced with a Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos.
Additional changes would regulate the passage of information between sperm donors and potential children. Sperm donors would be granted “access [to] limited, non-identifying information about children conceived as a result of their donations.”
As well, “in some circumstances” donors would have the right to be informed when their identifying details were provided to their children once they reached age 18. Also at age 18, the children would be able to find out if they have siblings from the same donor.
The coming proposals have been anticipated for some time, after urging by prominent leaders in the UK scientific community. A report introduced by members of the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee in 2005 recommended relaxing current research restrictions to permit experimentation on human/animal hybrids, along with other proposals to permit screening of embryos for identifying genetic malformations and sex selection purposes.
The policy changes are expected to be released on Friday. Legislation would follow next year.
Read Telegraph coverage:
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
National Geographic Reports Human/Animal Hybrid Creatures being Created in Labs Around the World
UK Cloning Doctor Wants to Create Human/Rabbit Hybrid Clones
UK Parliamentary Report Recommends Animal-Human Hybrids, Sex Selection and More