.- The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in Britain has begun a study to decide whether or not to allow the creation of “hybrid embryos” consisting of genetic material from human beings and animals.
Two teams of British scientists from King’s College in London and the University of Newcastle have requested permission from the HFEA to produce embryos that would 99.9% human and .1% animal. The HFEA has said it will not issue a decision until it finishes its study.
Although the proposal has been rejected by scientists, associations for the infirm and even the Prime Minister, a report from the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee argued that completely prohibiting the creation of hybrid embryos “"unacceptable and potentially harmful to UK science".
The report suggests the creation of hybrids from which stem cells could be harvested. They would be allowed to develop for 14 days and then would be destroyed. They would not be implanted in humans or animals.
Promoters of the experiment claim the hybrids would compensate for the lack of human embryos available for research.
The HFEA will meet in June with scientists to discuss the matter and will also conduct a survey of some 2000 individuals.
Josephine Quintavalle, director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, criticized the committee for its "wholehearted enthusiasm for unrestricted research with little concern for the broader ethical considerations."