Animal-human hybrids and "saviour siblings"
Both measures have been sold to MPs as of vital importance to saving lives but interestingly the Telegraph has reported the assisted reproduction pioneer, Lord Robert Winston, as stating:
'I'm really worried about saying this to you, because I know I shall get stick from my colleagues. But if the hybrid embryo thing doesn't go through, it in no way shakes the body of science... if we don't have that resource, it won't fundamentally alter the science of stem cell biology.'
Lord Winston is also reported as saying he has grave reservations about another disputed clause. 'I'm very unhappy about "saviour siblings".'
According to the Telegraph:
'his concern is that children selected to provide treatment for a sick brother or sister may be put under undue pressure to give bone marrow or organs.
So it wouldn't break his heart if the measure was voted down? "Absolutely not," he says.'
Dr David King, a former geneticist and founder of Human Genetics Alert opposes the Bill currently going through parliament. Here's his view as given in a UK newspaper.
Science behind stem cell debate
The potential of hybrid embryos has been massively overhyped.
I think they are very poor science, and I have put my case to three Nobel winning scientists and not one of them has disagreed with my scientific arguments.
There will be so many biodefects in these embryos it's very unlikely they will develop very far at all.
And if they did, they would be so abnormal they would be more likely to mislead scientists than provide the solutions we're being promised.
This Bill is the first step along the way to creating genetically modified children - and I think the Government should come clean about where this is going.
If you want to avoid having children with genetic conditions there are many ways you can do that.
Couples can adopt, use donor sperm and egg donation, have prenatal testing and an abortion if there is a problem, or have genetic selection of embryos.
Genetic modification is really unncessary, and that's where this is headed.
You've only got to look at what's happened with other areas of medicine like growth hormones, or cosmetic surgery.
First they're used for people with serious medical problems, then they becomes a consumer item, a product.
My fear is that this research will go the same way.
If a family is affected by a disease like cystic fibrosis it is a tragedy.
But given they have other options to avoid passing it on, if you are asking me to weigh up their wishes against the risks of a genetically engineered society, I would say we should not cross that line.
I would say that for the sake of the much larger social issues we must not cross this line.
The law is based on the moral premise that an embryo is not a person, but an entity that ought to be treated with respect.
If you grow an embryo purely for the purpose of research you separate it from that biological meaning of it being a beginning of a new life, with all the moral and ethical questions that raises.