EXTRACT FROM REVIEW OF THE HUMAN FERTILISATION
AND EMBRYOLOGY ACT: A PUBLIC CONSULTATION
9.29 The HFE Act makes clear that a human
embryo cannot be placed in an animal, or vice-versa, and that
human and animal gametes cannot be mixed other than in very specific
circumstances. Only a human embryo, or human gametes, may be placed
in a woman. These provisions reflected public disquiet about the
prospect of creating hybrid embryos (for example by the fertilisation
of a human egg with the sperm of another species), or "chimera"
embryos (for example by fusion of the cells of a human embryo
with cells from the embryo of another species). 
9.30 The Government has heard no compelling
evidence that there is any reason to remove the prohibition on
placing human embryos in animals (or vice-versa) and we
have no intention of changing this position.
9.31 However, the Government is aware of
arguments that there may be benefits in the research use of embryos
created through the combination of human and animal material.
At present the mixing of human and animal gametes is only allowed
(under licence) for testing the fertility or normality of human
sperm, and the result of the mixed gametes must be destroyed when
the test is complete and definitely no later than the two cell
stage. Other human-animal cell fusion products have been widely
used in biosciences research for many years, for example in the
development of treatments for some types of breast cancer.
9.32 Reasons for wanting to create hybrid
or chimera embryos for research could include:
to test the capacity of embryonic
stem cells to differentiate into a range of bodily cell types,
as part of research into the treatment of serious diseases; and
to derive human embryonic stem cells,
thereby circumventing the shortage of good quality human eggs
available for research.
9.33 The Science and Technology Committee
that new legislation should:
define the nature of hybrids and
make their creation legal for research
purposes (provided they are destroyed in line with the 14 day
prohibit their implantation in a
9.34 The Committee recognised that there
are strongly held views both for and against this proposal, ranging
from revulsion in some quarters to arguments that the creation
and destruction of such creations pose fewer ethical problems
than the creation and destruction of purely human embryos.
9.35 The Government invites views on whether
the law should permit the creation of human-animal hybrid or chimera
embryos for research purposes only (subject to the limit of 14
days culture in vitro, after which the embryos would have to be
32 For the purposes of this consultation a "chimera"
is a human or animal embryo into which other human or animal
genetic material has been inserted; a "hybrid" is a
human or animal egg into which human or animal genetic
material has been inserted other than the normal reproductive
Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law. See recommendation