Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Roger A Pedersen

  I speak as someone who trained and practiced both basic embryology research and assisted reproductive technologies in the United States before moving in 2001 to the United Kingdom to conduct research on human embryo-derived pluripotent stem cells.

  It is entirely clear to me that the well-considered, highly regulated circumstances allowing embryo research under auspices of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 provide a unique platform for research benefiting not only infertile patients, but also those afflicted by a host of other disease amenable to future treatments through stem cell research. While admittedly controversial, the Act provides for a careful balance between appropriate moral respect for living human cells, while at the same time conferring benefits of embryo research on members of the entire society. Moreover, this balance has been achieved by an extensive process of deliberation and consultation over a period of many years. Indeed, it is apparent that the development of public policies enabling embryo research to proceed under regulative scrutiny here in the United Kingdom is a major accomplishment that will accrue substantial health and economic benefits to the people of the United Kingdom. In sum, I would invoke the adage, "If it is not broken, do not fix it." The Act, and its implementing agency, the HFEA, function admirably to the benefit of the entire society, and therefore should be continued in force without alteration for the foreseeable future.

May 2004

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