The fertility and embryology regulator has announced a consultation on a controversial technique which could lead to children with three genetic parents.
David Cameron has reportedly given his support for the technique, but it has been criticised for being an attempt to “genetically modify the human species”.
Now the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given details about its six-month consultation process on the procedure.
As well as a number of public consultation events near the end of the year, the HFEA will carry out a survey of attitudes on the issue this month. It plans to publish its findings from the consultation in 2013.
The Government has previously said the technique may help avoid certain genetic diseases being passed on from mother to child.
But critics say there are serious ethical considerations and the experiments may have harmful unintended consequences.
Josephine Quintavalle, from the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “We are as anxious as anybody to see cures for the many serious conditions related to mitochondrial defects, but what is being proposed is not a cure either for the individual patient or the diseases themselves.
“It is an attempt to genetically modify the human species, creating an abnormal embryo using donor components from three or more adult sources, passing on these changes to future generations, with who knows what awful consequences.”
A Department of Health spokesman said the move from “laboratory research to clinical use” raises “important questions, which is why we have asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to conduct a thorough consultation”.