Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics has made the following
comment on this issue:-
The proposals in relationship to the creation of animal/human hybrid embryos are particularly worrying because licence applications have been with the HFEA since the beginning of November and we believe the responses will now be rushed through and will be in favour.
The Government will propose that the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos in vitro should not be allowed, but the law will contain a power enabling regulators to set our circumstances in which the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos may be allowed under licence, for research purposes only.
Currently there are two licence applications to use animal eggs, fused with human tissue, for research purposes (King's College (Dr Stephen Minger and Newcastle University (Dr Lyle Armstrong). Prof Wilmut is also expected to make application as well. On the HFEA website it is stated that they will reach a decision on these applications in January. It goes without saying the the current Govt is very keen to lead the world in stem cell research, and these proposals are meant to further that ambition.
A recent precedent. Recently the HFEA stated in a public consultation document on egg donation, that they had issued a licence for egg-sharing for research, even though they had not concluded their public consultation on the issue at stake. They argued that they have to consider applications when they are received and cannot delay response simply because they are engaged in a public consultation on the matter. In this instance they also added that 'If, after due consideration, the Authority decides that egg sharing for research is not
appropriate, it will be possible for the Licence Committee to review their decision for the egg sharing licence based on the new policy'. A classic piece of HFEA absurdity.
I believe they will use the same rationale to grant in January the licences applied.
Current status: protests, please, to the HFEA, MPs and the Minster responsible, Caroline Flint:
These appalling proposals must be opposed urgently.
For the Sunday Telegraph report, see here.