Friday, 12 April 2013

Engineering our way to a Eugenic Future: more warnings from experts

You may consider the following headline from a leading US newspaper blog last week to be rather extreme:
 ‘The British Embryo Authority and the Chamber of Eugenics’
But when it is followed a week later by a news report in aBritish newspaper saying:
‘Lord Robert Winston warning over child ‘eugenics’’ 
should we then take more notice?
The spur to these news reports was the publication of the UK fertility regulator’s report on whether to recommend mitochondrial manipulation in the UK.  I have written about the proposed ‘treatment’ for mitochondrial disorders in previous blogs (see here and in a CMF submission).
Briefly, mitochondria replacement techniques, it is claimed, could enable parents to avoid passing debilitating and sometimes fatal mitochondrial diseases on to their children by using a donor’s mitochondria to create a healthy embryo (although it is a relatively rare disorder and only one child in 6500 is affected by a serious mitochondrial disease).
This would be a form of germline genetic engineering. A child born following mitochondria replacement would share their DNA with three people:  the male ‘donor’ of the sperm, the female donor of the nuclear DNA and the female donor of the small number of mitochondrial DNA.  Hence the headlines about three parent babies.
The UK fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been requesting views over the past year on whether these techniques should be made available to couples at risk of having an affected child. The HFEA has just concluded that:
Our advice to Government, set out in this report, is that there is general support for permitting mitochondria replacement in the UK, so long as it is safe enough to offer in a treatment setting and is done so within a regulatory framework.’
So why the negative headlines about eugenics when this research could save lives and the HFEA seems to think it is safe enough to use?

Read more at Christian Medical Fellowship Blog.

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