In a few weeks, the British Parliament will decide whether or not Great Britain should become the first country in the world to authorise three-parent IVF. The British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Association consented to this practice last June (Gènéthique press review on June 6th, 2014). Since then, the Government has also voiced its decision (Gènéthique press review on July 23rd, 2014).
However, based on recent studies, an article published on the New Scientist site advises caution.
For those in favour of the practice, the term “Three-parent IVF” is misleading. “The mitochondria and their genomes are purely functional and limited to energy production. They have no influence on the appearance, personality, intelligence or other attributes“. However, according to the New Scientist, the role of the mitochondria may have been largely under-estimated after all. In fact, recent research emphasises the fact that the mitochondria play a key role in some of the most important aspects of human life. This practice therefore raises ethical concerns as children conceived in this way would inherit the essential traits of three people. Consequently, the New Scientist is calling for all of the questions raised in relation to three-parent IVF to be debated before Parliament prior to any decisions being made.