The Government is “deliberately trying to dupe the public” about plans to allow genetically modified babies, a newspaper columnist has said.
Lori Anderson believes that the Department of Health’s redefinition of “genetic modification” last month is intentionally misleading.
Anderson said that “the Department of Health effectively re-wrote the definition of ‘genetic modification’ to specifically exclude the alteration of human mitochondrial genes”.
She referenced Stuart Newman of New York Medical College who describes the techniques in question as “full-scale germline genetic engineering”.
The techniques would result in babies inheriting genetic material from three parents.
Anderson also picked up on views expressed by critics concerning the “dangerous precedent” of designer babies.
She argues that allowing the techniques to take place will “eventually lead us to a twisted world where parents can choose their child’s height and the colour of their eyes”.
Professor of bioethics Calum MacKellar previously said that allowing the procedures would “open the door to further genetic alterations of human beings with unforeseeable consequences”.
Last month, leading scientists, including fertility expert Professor Lord Robert Winston, also criticised the Department of Health’s redefinition of genetic modification.
Lord Winston told The Independent: “Of course mitochondrial transfer is genetic modification and this modification is handed down the generations. It is totally wrong to compare it with a blood transfusion”.
Dr David King from the pressure group Human Genetics accused the Government of “playing PR games based on very dubious science”.
In February, an advisory panel to the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), examined the techniques.
Their research suggested that the “full spectrum of risks” was yet to be identified.
A recent UK Government consultation on the proposals to allow three-parent babies showed that 62 per cent of people are opposed.