News that scientists have been given permission to create an embryo with genetic material from three parents, has been greeting with shock by life groups around the UK. Yesterday the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) granted a second cloning licence to the Newcastle Centre for Life for the project. Researchers stress that this experiment is only the very first step in a very difficult process, which they hope will lead to techniques that might prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA diseases such as muscular dystrophy. After the experiment the embryo will be destroyed. Josephine Quintavalle from Comment on Reproductive Ethics said she was horrified at the news. She said: "This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public. It is undesirable to create children in this way. It will shock the world. This is playing around with early human life." LIFE spokesman Matthew O'Gorman said: "This decision is utterly unethical, abhorrent and contrary to public opinion. The HFEA are relentlessly imposing their libertarian agenda on the people of this country against their wishes: the Government must act to disband it immediately. "We support all ethical attempts to find cures for disabilities but one cannot countenance the deliberate creation of genetically abnormal children however noble the motive may be. "There is no satisfactory reason for using human beings as research material. Cloning techniques have been rejected by the vast majority of countries in the world as well as the European Union and the United Nations. Whatever one's feelings are about cloning per se, decisions of this magnitude should be made by Parliament not an unelected and unaccountable quango." Speaking on behalf of the Bishops' Conference today, Archbishop Peter Smith said: "This is the latest in a catalogue of decisions with profound ethical implications made by the HFEA. Not only are there ethical questions which need very wide and searching debate, but also long term risks to be considered. "It is high time we followed the example of many other countries and set up an overarching body for the UK - a National Bio-ethics Commission. A properly constituted independent body could advise Parliament, conduct extensive public consultation and education, and provide a continuing forum for discussion and dialogue about these far reaching ethical issues. Such a body would go a long way to ensuring that we were not then regularly faced with major decisions made without adequate public consultation or debate, and which are fostering a growing public unease."
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