The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has called for a moratorium on all research on human embryos in the UK because laws regulating the field are hopelessly out of date. The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, it says, grants licences for procedures which would outrage the public if they understood what was happening. The world-famous Roslin Institute in Midlothian which cloned Dolly the sheep, for instance, is creating embryos from human eggs without sperm, a process called parthenogenesis.
“Out of respect for democratic values and the view of the general public, a moratorium should be enforced on parthenogenesis and other possible procedures until the HFEA has adequately consulted with wider society,” says the SCHB in report to the British Parliament.
The proposal was dismissed by biotechnologist Professor Wayne Davies, of Glasgow University. “I don’t think people would be so keen on a moratorium if a member of their family were at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or even diabetes. Stem cell research is being used to research how to tackle all these diseases.”
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