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About United Kingdom Policies & Human Biotechnology


The United Kingdom's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), established in 1991, is often considered a model for regulating and overseeing human biotechnologies. It licenses and monitors all research involving human embryos, and all facilities offering in vitro fertilization or storage of eggs, sperm, or embryos. UK law does not permit certain activities involving human embryos.

The HFEA's 21 members are appointed by UK Health Ministers; at least half of them are required to be neither doctors nor scientists involved in human embryo research or infertility treatment.

To grant a research license, the HFEA must be satisfied that the use of human embryos is "necessary or desirable" for an enumerated purpose. The HFEA inspects licensed clinics annually; produces a Code of Practice that guides clinics on proper conduct; keeps a formal registry for donors, treatments, and children born; and conducts public consultations on controversial applications.



UK Researchers Now Say Three-Person Embryo Technique Doesn't Work; Propose New Methodby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJune 8th, 2016New research shows the mitochondrial manipulation technique recently legalized in the UK faces major unknowns.
Unheard Publics in the Human Genome Editing Policy Debateby Elliot HosmanJune 8th, 2016The socially dangerous prospect of using genome editing tools for human reproduction underlies the need for caution in modifying embryos in basic research.
On Cyborgs and Gene Editing: Lessons from Orphan Blackby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical Times guest contributorJune 1st, 2016The television show takes a cue from science fiction author Donna Haraway and engages the dangers of human genetic modification.
British scientist can genetically modify human embryos, ethics committee saysby Lydia WillgressThe Telegraph [UK]May 27th, 2016Following HFEA approval in February, a local ethics committee approves Kathy Niakan's program to CRISPR human embryos for basic research.
Netherlands gives green light for growing human embryos by Agence France-PresseThe GuardianMay 27th, 2016The Dutch government sanctions "limited research" to help infertile couples and to tackle hereditary or congenital diseases.
Four steps to rebuild trust in biologyby Filipo Lentzos & Nicholas EvansThe GuardianMay 23rd, 2016Secrecy, safety breaches and controversial experiments are risking the reputation of biomedical science.
Surrogacy laws for single parents to change after court ruling BBCMay 23rd, 2016UK surrogacy laws that prevent single people from claiming parental rights are set to change following a ruling by the Family Division of the High Court.
Bill Banning Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Consideredby Tanya LewisThe ScientistMay 19th, 2016A US Senate committee is considering extending a ban on federal funds for research involving genetically modifying human embryos, which includes germline mitochondrial manipulation techniques.
UK should freeze mitochondrial replacement as Egli paper ID’s serious problemby Paul KnoepflerThe NicheMay 19th, 2016New research, which shows that transfer of one egg's nucleus into another egg might bring along diseased mitochondria, warrants putting an immediate hold on all efforts to use the technique in humans.
It's not just stem cell research that's overhyped—medical science spin is a widespread problemby Kelly CroweCBC NewsMay 18th, 2016The International Society for Stem Cell Research is urging scientists to manage public expectations.
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