Council of Europe attacks genetic procedure

Oct. 5, 2013 at 5:47 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The Council of Europe has signed a declaration attacking England's plan to permit the creation of babies with DNA from three biological parents.

British lawmakers are in the process of writing legislation that would allow a small number of potential parents at high risk of having children with severe conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, to use the IVF technique, which involved using DNA from a third person, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The technique is used to reduce a newborn's risk of inheriting heart, brain and muscle disorders passed on through a mother's mitochondrial DNA.

However, 34 European politicians on the Council of Europe -- a human rights organization based in Strasbourg, France -- called the procedure a "eugenic practice" and signed a declaration as an attempt to block England from putting it into practice.

"The undersigned members of the Parliamentary Assembly affirm that the creation of children with genetic material from more than two progenitor persons, as is being proposed by the United Kingdom Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, is incompatible with human dignity and international law," the declaration said.

The declaration was proposed by Jim Dobbin, a British Labor Parliament member, and was signed by seven other British lawmakers.

"Animal models have not been 100 per cent successful and have left some damaged individuals so to try this in humans at this stage, in our view, is not very clever," Dobbin told The Daily Telegraph. "Essentially we are saying the HFEA is overstepping its mark here."

Ian Wilmut, the geneticist who cloned Dolly the sheep, said all the procedure does is make children healthy.

"This simple procedure will make it possible for couples to have healthy children, who otherwise might not," Wilmut said. "Without this help there is a serious risk that the child will die or suffer serious illness."

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