Human Genetics Alert

Phone/Fax: 020 7502 7516


For immediate release 20 December 2007

'Unto Us a Designer Child is Born……' (1)

Government 'future-proofing' sets all signal lights to green on track to GM babies

Sadly, this is not a Christmas silly story: if the Government has its way, in a few Christmases we could see the birth of the first genetically modified (GM) baby. HGA has today written to the government (see attachment) challenging it to justify plans to allow genetic modification of human embryos, the first step towards creating GM babies. If the government succeeds, future generations will look back on Christmas 2007 as a moment of profound historical significance. It will be the moment at which humanity opened the door to a new eugenics, and abandoned its traditional belief in children as gifts, turning them into just another consumer good.

In the letter to Dawn Primarolo MP, HGA's director, Dr David King points out that because of the strong international consensus against human genetic modification and human cloning, the EU has banned any research to develop these technologies. The government's protestations that it has retained the ban on creating actual GM babies for the moment are unconvincing: since it is illogical to develop a technology which you intend to remain permanently illegal, we can only conclude that the government's aim is to eventually permit GM babies, as it admitted in the consultation on revision of the HFE Act.

HGA's director, Dr David King, said: "If we allow this, future generations will blame us for abandoning the basic values of human dignity preached by Christianity and other religious and secular traditions."

"The Government's ‘future proofing' is setting the signal lights to green for the genetics runaway train.”

For more information, contact Dr David King, 020 7502 7516 or 07854 256040.

Notes for editors

1. ‘… unto us a child is constructed'. With apologies to ISAIAH 9:1-7 and G. F. Handel.

2. The Government's proposals are embodied in the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently going through the House of Lords. Note that the most important change is the removal of the ban in the 1990 HFE Act on any genetic modification of human embryos. The provision to specifically allow the introduction of animal genes in section 4A (5)(c) is, strictly speaking, unnecessary, since any genes, from humans, animals, plants or bacteria may now be inserted.

3. Human Genetics Alert is an independent, secular watchdog group, which supports abortion rights. Dr David King, HGA's director, is a former molecular biologist.