Bioethics centre protests at animal-human embryo research ruling

 Creating embryos from animal eggs and human DNA is a "reproductive perversion", the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics has warned. The The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics has raised major concerns following the news that a government committee has given the go-ahead to research involving the creation of animal human embryos. Dr Helen Watt, director of the centre, said there are moral and religious boundaries in the creation of such embryos that should not be crossed. "We cannot safely assume that this procedure will not create a real, though damaged, human embryo, who will have no human parents and whose quasi-mother is a non-human animal," she said. "This is a further offence to the embryo whom we plan to destroy, in that its very humanity will be called into question. Even if there were no risk of creating a genuine human embryo, it is a form of reproductive perversion to use a human nucleus to substitute in this way for animal reproductive material. "The unique dignity of the human species, for which life and reproduction have a special meaning, needs to be safeguarded," Dr Watt added. Earlier this year the government gave its backing to "inter-species entities" in the draft human tissue and embryos bill. In its ruling yesterday afternoon, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said that scientists will still have to make individual applications to be able to carry out the work. Anthony Ozimic, secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said he "deplored" the decision. "This is not just a case of the 'yuk factor', he warned. "There are grave ethical and moral objections to this research and the way it is being promoted." Supporters of the research say that it could lead to new treatments for diseases such as Parkinsons and Multiple Sclerosis. Ethical and religious groups however are calling for more investment in research using adult stem cells, which has already shown promising results and does not involve the destruction of human embryos. See also: 5 September 2007 Hybrid embryos - comment by Archbishop Peter Smith

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