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Leading scientists warn Parliamentary inquiry against 3-parent baby plan

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This week, leading international scientists will warn a Parliamentary inquiry that the Government’s 3-parent baby plan raises serious public safety concerns and should not be permitted to go ahead.

Currently, the proposed technique - known as “mitochondria replacement therapy” - can only be used for research purposes, and involves transferring both parents’ DNA into a donor egg.

Ministers say the procedure will help prevent mothers from passing mitochondrial disorders to their children.

But in a letter to the Commons science and technology committee, which will hold a one-day inquiry into 3-parent babies on 22 October, the group of scientists will warn: “The safety of mitochondrial replacement therapy is not yet established sufficiently well to proceed to clinical trials.”

One of the world’s leading cell biology scientists, Stuart Newman, a professor at New York Medical College, who will put his objections forward this week, said the importance of the contribution made by the donor parent was being down played, and that the proposed procedure amounted to a form of genetic modification. “The mitochondria are . . . participants in the development of the organism. This clearly makes any person [brought into being from the procedure] a product of wholesale genetic engineering,” he said.

The Government claims the role of mitochondria is limited to producing energy, and that they have no influence on a person’s appearance, personality, intelligence or other human attribute.

However, an editorial in the New Scientist magazine warned that "we may have seriously underestimated the influence that mitochondria have" in light of new research which "suggests that they play a key role in some of the most important features of human life."

Scientists have also highlighted that tests on animals indicate that children born through the technique could face serious problems, such as reduced fertility, shorter lives, learning difficulties and cancer.


Sunday Times (£)


Daily Mail