Christians have launched a court case over a quango’s decision to allow the creation of the UK’s first animal-human embryos.
The embryos were created by scientists before MPs have even voted on the issue as part of the Government’s controversial embryos Bill.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) believes that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) broke the law when it licensed scientists in Newcastle and London to create animal-human embryos.
The 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act gave the HFEA the power to grant licences for research using human embryos.
However, the Act does not refer to animal-human embryos. In granting the licences, the CLC says, the HFEA acted outside its legal remit.
The CLC also questions whether or not the HFEA was right to deem such experiments “necessary or desirable” for the research, because recent advances have provided alternatives to using embryos.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the CLC, said: “We believe the HFEA acted unlawfully in granting licences permitting the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.
“When the 1990 HFE Act was passed it was quite clear that Parliament envisaged the embryo as human and not ‘animal-human’.”
Lawyers for the HFEA argue that it was obliged to rule on applications concerning animal-human embryos.
MPs are preparing to debate the issue of embryo research as part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The Bill currently contains plans to allow the HFEA to grant licences for animal-human embryo research.