MPs raise ‘grave concerns’ over plans for GM babies

A Labour MP has warned against legalising controversial GM baby techniques because of moral, ethical and public safety concerns.

Speaking during a backbench debate on techniques that create three or four-parent babies, MP Robert Flello said “we cannot authorise new research techniques that are unsafe or might be unsafe”.

Several MPs raised other serious concerns about Government plans, which would make the UK the only country in the world to allow the procedures.

Experimentation

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce said: “This is a case of genetic engineering; it is the alteration of a potential human being”.

Highlighting the scientific uncertainty of the techniques, she said that “to allow these procedures at present would be tantamount to experimentation.”

Tory MP and former minister Sir Edward Leigh warned that the plans could lead to humans being created for the “sole purpose of harvesting their useful parts”.

Unethical

Sir Edward added: “There is no way that that can be considered ethical, whether in terms of purely rational deductive natural law, or by the system of Christian ethics on which we in this country have traditionally relied.”

The techniques, Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) and Pro-Nuclear Transfer (PNT), aim to create children free from mitochondrial disease.

A number of scientists, activists and politicians have previously spoken out about the dangers.

Risks

Bioethics professor Calum MacKellar said allowing the procedures “would create a very serious precedent, resulting in grave risks for the future”.

Professor Lord Robert Winston, a fertility expert said: “I don’t believe there has been enough work done to make sure mitochondrial replacement is truly safe.”

A recent consultation on the proposals to allow three-parent babies showed that 62 per cent of people are opposed.

Figures showed that of 1,857 responses, 1,152 opposed the idea of three-parent babies, while 700 “expressed general support”. The remainder did not come down on either side.

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