‘GM babies are the commodification of humanity’

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has expressed its complete opposition to controversial techniques which would create three and four-parent babies.

Spokesman Peter Kearney warned that the “proposed techniques fail on a number of ethical grounds which should concern us all”.

Last month MPs voted in favour of regulations allowing two techniques – Maternal Spindle Transfer and Pro-Nuclear Transfer – which are also known as mitochondrial replacement.

Utterly disingenuous

Writing for The Scotsman, Mr Kearney stressed that: “They destroy human life, since in order to construct a disease-free embryo, two healthy ones will have to be destroyed.”

He added: “Destroying those who have a particular disease and presenting it as a cure or as progress is utterly disingenuous and completely unethical.”

Mr Kearney went on to point out that: “No other country in the world has licensed these procedures.”

Ignorance

He noted: “A majority of responses to the Department of Health consultation opposed the proposal.”

The votes which took place in Parliament showed, according to Kearney, “how completely ignorant our legislators are about science in general and genetics in particular”.

He went on to describe the techniques as the “ultimate example of commodification of humanity, where some (the donor embryos) become the means to another’s end”.

Uncertain experiment

Mr Kearney added: “It is surprising that a society which increasingly favours and supports natural and ‘environmentally friendly’ products and services should countenance the genetic modification of human beings.”

Last month Dr Trevor Stammers, Programme Director in Bioethics and Medical Law at St Mary’s University in London, said the procedures are “nothing more than an uncertain experiment”.

Writing for his University’s blog, Dr Stammers said those raising “serious doubts” about the safety of the procedures “far outweigh those in support of proceeding in our present state of knowledge”.

Genetic engineering

He highlighted the “widespread concern” among scientists within the UK and across the world about the current understanding of the interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA.

Dr Stammers concluded: “We are galloping into genetic engineering of humans which will enter into the germline for the very first time.”