By Hilary White
  LONDON, October 18, 2007 ( – A private firm in the US that has proposed a scheme to turn “spare” embryos left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments into stem cells, has come under criticism in the UK by fertility experts. reported in August this year that a California-based company StemLifeLine, would allow couples, for a $17,000 US fee, to cannibalize their extra children for spare parts which could then be stored for up to 20 years.
  The company researchers told delegates at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Washington that 17 couples from the Nevada Center for Reproductive Medicine had donated 45 three-day-old frozen embryos. From these the doctors created nine stem cell lines.
  The British critics, however, have for many years fully accepted the use of living human beings at the embryonic stage for experimentation. They therefore had little moral grounds for objection and merely cited disapproval of the commercial aspect of the procedure based on little clinical evidence of success.
  Stephen Minger, a professor and stem cell expert at King’s College-London, told BBC news, “My worry is that this is a commercial service that is being promoted to companies when the science is really not there to justify it.” He added, “It is like trying to run before you can walk, and the fact it is being done for commercial purposes makes it worse.”
  Lord Robert Winston, a fertility expert and chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University has repeatedly warned in the British press that the claims for embryo stem cells are overly-hyped in the media and that women are being used as guinea pigs in IVF experiments. He told the Scotsman newspaper, “There is no scientific evidence to sustain the notion this will be a useful procedure.”
  John Paul Maytum of the UK’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, regarded as the most permissive national embryo research regulatory agency in the world, objected only that there was not a stated intended use for the stem cells obtained by the California research. British rules, he said, would prevent a private company doing this research without a specific goal in mind. He told the Guardian, “It is very difficult to see how that would pass the ‘necessary and desirable’ test for the use of human embryos.”
  Read related coverage:

  California Company: We’ll Turn Your Child’s Sibling Embryos Into Extra Body Parts