Submission from the Genetic Interest Group
The Genetic Interest Group (GIG), an umbrella
organisation working for more than 130 member groups who have
a keen interest in the undertaking of high quality ethically sound
biomedical research, is alarmed at the news of a potential ban
on the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos for research purposes.
When weighed against the lives that patients
with intractable or incurable conditions must lead, we find the
arguments proposing a ban, and the end of some potentially fruitful
research, to be insufficient. The Genetic Interest Group believes
that this avenue of research should be examined for its potential
before it is closed.
1. The Genetic Interest Group (GIG) is an
umbrella organisation working for more than 130 member groups,
who support patients of inherited conditions and their families.
Many of the conditions represented by our member groups are incurable
and intractable, with no cure or treatment on the horizon. GIG
speaks from the perspective of those who have a keen interest
in the undertaking of high quality ethically sound biomedical
research into the links between genetics and human health and
disease. GIG's members and the families they support depend on
research, and its application in the form of new products and
services to eliminate or alleviate the impact of diseases which
currently cause chronic ill health, frequently progressive disability
and sometimes premature death.
2. GIG was alarmed to read paragraphs 2.81-2.85
of the Department of Health Review of the Human Fertilisation
and Embryology Act, announcing a potential ban on newly devised
animal-human hybrid embryo creation. GIG believes that this ban
would close, or narrow significantly, a potentially fruitful avenue
of research; as yet unexplored.
3. Our members are aware that there has
been no treatment delivered from embryonic stem cell research,
and that there is none forthcoming. Despite this, our members
look towards this research with hope, and even expectation. Their
strongly held view that this avenue of research should be investigated
fully, is a product of their (or their families) healthcare situation.
4. As long as an individual is free of injury
or disease, they can prioritise ethical or religious principles.
However, once an individual or their family is affected by a condition
that is incurable, intractable or life-threatening, their priorities
can change dramatically. Any ethical or religious argument against
an avenue of research should be weighed against potential treatments
or cures for the thousands of UK citizens that must endure a life
of pain and/or disability due to an intractable or incurable condition.
5. The creation of animal-human hybrid embryos
has been labelled unnatural. This is a familiar argument that
should be rejected. All molecular, cell, and genetic biological
research could be described as such. IVF is the most obvious example
of a health technology initially criticised as unnatural; it is
now almost universally accepted as a wonderful technology for
the treatment of infertility.
6. Another argument against allowing animal-human
embryo creation and the following research is that it has no proven
scientific worth. GIG would respond that this is an argument for
allowing the research to examine how valuable this new technology
7. The Genetic Interest Group believes that
high quality ethically sound biomedical research should be allowed
to flourish in the UK for the potential benefit of its citizens.