14 October 2013
ByAppeared in BioNews 726
The statement, signed by 34 MPs of The Council of Europe, an international organisation representing EU and non-EU signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, says 'the creation of children with genetic material from more than two progenitor persons [...] is incompatible with human dignity and international law'.
Earlier this year, following a review of the evidence surrounding mitochondrial replacement techniques, which are still under development, and a public consultation showing broad support for the techniques, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) advised the UK Government to begin developing regulations to support its use in the clinic (reported in BioNews 698). The Nuffield Council on Bioethics conducted an ethical review of the techniques in 2012 (reported in BioNews 661).
The declaration highlights clauses from The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, which states that 'germ-line interventions' could be considered as practices which are 'contrary to human dignity'. It also cites the Council of Europe's non-binding Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which the UK has not signed, that prohibits modifying the genome of any descendants.
The recent declaration follows concerns raised by scientists last month that there is not yet enough evidence from animal tests to reliably support the use of the technique in the clinic (reported in BioNews 723). Jim Dobbin re-iterated this, saying to the Telegraph that 'animal models have not been 100 percent successful'.
'To try this in humans at this stage, in our view, is not very clever', he added.
The statement, which does not represent the view of the whole Council, was signed by 34 of the 318 members the parliamentary assembly.