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ACTION: Write to Your MP About ‘Mitochondrial Donation’ (‘Three Parent Embryos’) Regulations

Tomorrow, the House of Commons will vote on whether to pass the proposed Mitochondrial Donation Regulations, which would involve the destruction of embryonic human beings in order to engage in genetic manipulation that would produce children with three or four genetic parents, the first time in history where the human germline (the genetic inheritance of humanity) will be artificially altered without any way of tracking the long-term effects. RTL wrote a briefing on the basic issue last year.

This is being pushed for license by the Government despite the concerns of scientists that not enough preclinical work has been done to ensure that the techniques are safe. This includes the head adviser to the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Professor Evan Snyder. The last time one of these techniques was tried in humans, it resulted in three fetal deaths and prompted China to impose a blanket ban. Yet many of the safety tests prescribed by the Expert Panel of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for ‘mitochondrial donation’ techniques have yet to be conducted and given peer-reviewed publication.

Leading lawyers have also objected that the Regulations may be incompatible with UK obligations in international law, specifically the European Directive on Clinical Trials which bans germ-line engineering. It has also been argued that the Government’s insistence that the techniques are not genetic modification has undermined the whole basis for the techniques, and the Regulations do not therefore cohere with current UK law.

Our friends at Life have produced a utility on their website that you can use to quickly contact your MP about this issue. It takes just 30 seconds. Please do so today, and urge them to oppose the passing of these regulations. Please also share this post on social media, and encourage others to contact their own MPs on this urgent issue!

Mitochondrion image from Dr. David Furness, Keele University.