Azara Blog: A "public" consultation about human-animal hybrid embryos

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Date published: 2007/04/28

The BBC says:

UK regulators have launched a public consultation on whether scientists should be allowed to create human-animal hybrid embryos.

Ministers proposed outlawing such work after unfavourable public opinion.

But a recent report from the Science and Technology Committee warned a total ban was "unnecessarily prohibitive" and could harm UK science.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority (HFEA) will announce its final recommendations in the Autumn.

Applications by King's College London and the University of Newcastle for permission to produce embryos that would be 99.9% human and 0.1% animal have been sent to the HFEA, but have been put on hold.
There will be a public meeting in London during June where interest groups, fertility patients, members of the public and scientists will discuss the issues.

An opinion poll of 2,000 people is also planned and anyone can offer their views through an online questionnaire.

Shirley Harrison, chair of the HFEA, said: "The possibility of creating human embryos that contain animal DNA clearly raises key ethical and social questions that we need to take into consideration before deciding whether or not we can permit this type of research.

"Groups who are strongly for or against this type of research often made their views clear to us. But as this is a complex area of science, many other people might feel that they don't know enough about the issue to take part in the debate or give their views."

Another totally pointless "public" consultation. As Harrison herself pretty much admits, most people do not "know enough about the issue to take part in the debate or give their views". The large majority of people who will make their views known will either be scientists, and possibly companies, and some patient groups, who will vociferously support the technology, and, on the other side, people who have strong objections to this technology, which in this case mainly means religious people, or organisations, and also the usual suspects who hate biotechnology. A robot could write the responses.

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