Brit MPs allow use of human-animal embryos for scientific research

May 20th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by admin  

Gordon Brown

London, May 20 (ANI): British MPs have voted to allow the creation of hybrid embryos, which have a combination of human and animal DNA, as well as “saviour siblings” to save sick children.

Researchers at Newcastle University had announced successful creation of part-human, part-animal hybrid embryos for the first time in the UK that created a furore.

Lawmakers and religious leaders claimed that such experiments amounted to “Frankenstein” science, and breached the sanctity of human life.

However, under the new laws, the scientists will get the right to conduct the in-depth research into hybrid embryos.

They had complained of being hampered by a lack of human eggs available for research.

As a part of the measures in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the scientists would be able to increase stocks by creating embryos using animal matter, mainly from cows and rabbits.

The Conservatives led by Edward Leigh in the Parliament were defeated by 336 votes to 176, as many Tory MPs on the front and backbenches favoured the Government plans.

Both British PM Gordon Brown and leader of opposition David Cameron supported the research.

“My own approach to this is the law needs updating and the importance of science and research and getting to grips with genetic disease … I want to see the research go forward,” Telegraph quoted Cameron, as saying

And Brown called it a “moral endeavour”.

Arguing for an all-out ban on hybrid embryos, Leigh told the House that this does cross the ultimate boundaries between humans and animals.

“There is nobody in this House who denies with these diseases how wonderful it would be if there was some easy way we could cure them,” he said.

“Some things are so unnecessarily dangerous that they should be banned,

“No other country is going down this route. In these terms in embryology we would almost be like a rogue state.

“We’re like children playing with landmines without any concept on the danger of the technology that we are handling.

“We cannot and should not be spliced together with the animal kingdom,’” he added.

The former Home Office minister, Fiona Mactaggart, urged MPs to support the extension of embryo research, telling the House that she herself suffered from multiple sclerosis and had been through the painful ordeal of fertility treatment.

Even Labour MP Dr Ian Gibson, a member of the Stem Cell Foundation urged MPs not to limit scientific advances by over-regulating.

“The reason we do science is we have a hunch, an idea. We want to make sure that we can take science on,” he said.

The health minister, Dawn Primarolo also said: “It is not a promise that it will definitely lead to these treatments, it is an aspiration that it might.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, which spearheaded the opposition to hybrid embryos, pledged to fight on throughout the Bill’s remaining stages.

“To discuss the complex issues surrounding human-animal mixed embryos in three hours is offensively short. It gives MPs no time to explore the true implications,” said a group’s spokesman. (ANI)

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