Great Britain in the race towards genetic modification of human embryos

Publié le : 11 December 2015

During the London seminar entitled, “From Three-Person IVF to Genome Editing” organised by the Educational Trust Progress (PET) on Wednesday, 9 December at University College London, Professor Mark Walport, the Government’s Scientific Advisor, announced that the genetic modifying of human embryos could be acceptable.

 

 According to him, there are “circumstances” in which genetic editing of the human embryo could be “acceptable” although he stated that “more research is fundamental”. In fact, “we need to know that we are modifying the gene we want and not another one”, he explained.

 The Francis Crik Institute in London has already requested permission from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out similar experiments in Great Britain, specifying that modified embryos would not be kept for more than fourteen days(cf Gènéthique du 18 septembre 2015).

 

 Although the HFEA banned any genetic modification to human genomes in 1990, since then, February 2015 to be precise, Parliament authorised three-parent IVF(cf. Gènéthique du 4 février 2015, du 6 février 2015, du 11février 2015, du 9 février 2015 et du 28 octobre 2015)[1]. The first babies conceived using this technique will be born in 2016.

 

 Are we creating “designer” babies for the future? How are we going to protect the human genome that is part of the heritage of humanity, and avoid any risk of eugenics, as Unesco recently reminded us? (cf Gènéthique du 29 octobre 2015)

 

 

[1]The “in-vitro conception of babies created from the DNA of three persons”.

 

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