Public consulted over the right to genetically modify embryosCurrent affairsScience & Technology
The public shall be given a vote over whether three-person IVF should be allowed in the UK as part of a consultation commissioned by the Government.
If voted ethical, the process of “three people, one baby” could be carried out on human embryos in order to prevent the inheritance of genetic mutations such as mitochondrial disease, which effects one in 200 newborns.
Though the child’s DNA will be predominantly that of their parents, the child will also inherit some healthy DNA from the third party. This inheritance of three people’s genes will make them genetically modified. This allows damaged genetic material to be removed from the first woman’s egg by incorporating healthy DNA by a second, so that an unwanted genetic condition is not passed onto the child.
Critics argue the breakthrough procedure would set a precedent of “designer babies”. They suggest that there could be unknown psychological effects on the child, parents and donor and that modified DNA would be introduced into the public reproduction pool permanently.
Supporters of the medical intervention say it could prevent life-threatening genetic disorders being passed down family lines.
The findings of the public consultation on 7th December 2012 will be presented to Government ministers in the spring of next year. If voted in, the necessary 3-5 years of safety testing would still mean the procedure will take time to become accessible.