The UK today (29th October) becomes the first country in the world to allow the creation of genetically-modified, 'three-parent babies' as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 come into effect.
Parliament approved the regulations in February, in the face of widespread concern over the ethical and safety implications.
Commenting on this new development, Barrister and Chief Executive of Cristian Concern Andrea Williams said, “Even judged by the UK's generally cavalier approach to bioethics, this is a huge ethical and safety line to cross.
"Countless human embryos will be destroyed in the development of these techniques and once they are deployed, we will be embarking on a mass genetic experiment on future generations, without consent.
"There is no way of accurately predicting the consequences, but future generations will be forced to endure them.
"No wonder that, for so many in the international scientific community, this is a line that shouldn't be crossed.
"First, we are altering genetic material, which could give rise to unforeseen complications and abnormalities.
Secondly, we are creating children who have at least three genetic parents. What effect will that have?
Thirdly, we are imposing this, not just on the next generation, but on all subsequent generations, because these modifications will be passed from one generation to the next.
"We have set out on a dangerous path, on which 'designer babies' and even eugenics could prove to be much closer than we pretend.
"We are 'playing God', undermining the very pattern for family and human dignity that God has given to us."
Ahead of the Parliament vote, Westminster Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales stated,
“Whilst the Church recognises the suffering that mitochondrial diseases bring and hopes that alternative methods of treatment can be found, it remains opposed on principle to these procedures where the destruction of human embryos is part of the process.”
“This is about a human life with potential, arising from a father and a mother, being used as disposable material,” he added. “The human embryo is a new human life with potential; it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception and not used as disposable material.”
The new law (which was voted in 328-128) legalises the process in which the DNA of a third person is added to that of the embryo in order to stop the transmission of mitochondrial disease as in e.g. muscular dystrophy.