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Three-parent embryos

November 2013

The UK government’s proposal to genetically engineer three-parent human embryos has been met with severe criticism by members of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
    The group has adopted a Written Declaration severely criticising the UK government’s plans, which would make Britain the first country to introduce legislation permitting the engineering of babies with a completely novel genome that could not exist naturally.
    According to Christian charity CARE, this proposal would ‘take us across a threshold that all the international bodies which have considered this proposition are adamant should not be crossed. Never before has there been a member of the human species with more than two genetic parents’.
    David Fieldsend, manager of CARE for Europe, said, ‘Mindful of the growing concern of parliamentarians, bioethicists and scientists at the UK’s proposal to introduce legislation breaching this key ethical threshold, CARE would call on the British government to review its position and not to introduce legislation permitting these highly controversial procedures’.
    According to the Written Declaration, the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, all prohibit a practice that would introduce inheritable changes into the human gene line.