Bill loophole could allow full cloning

Human clones could be born without any need to change an Act of Parliament because of loose wording in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, critics have warned.

The Bill replaces the current ban on reproductive cloning with new wording that makes an exception for the creation of so-called ‘three-parent embryos’.

Scientists want to do this because they believe they can prevent genetic diseases from being passed from mother to child.

But critics say the new wording in the Bill could give Government Ministers the power to allow full reproductive cloning without any need for primary legislation in Parliament.

They warn that under the current wording, regulations could be made to allow reproductive cloning to prevent a child from inheriting particular genetic diseases.

Although the Government insists that the intention is not to allow full reproductive cloning, MPs have called for clear safeguards to be included in the Bill.

Evan Harris MP, a chief opponent of pro-life issues, accepts the need for safeguards.

He said: “There is no prospect of this Parliament, or future Parliaments, passing regulations that would allow human reproductive cloning.

“But it would clearly be better, for the sake of consistency and reassurance, for the Bill to do what we all thought it would do, which is totally to ban human reproductive cloning in primary legislation.”

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo MP has said that the Government will look into the issue. A Department spokesman said: “This power can only be used to permit the practice of curing an embryo or an egg of a serious mitochondrial disease. The Government will not use this power to permit the practice of reproductive cloning.”

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