MPs condemn GM baby doctors

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The Independent Online
Scientists and MPs have condemned the creation of the world's first "genetically modified" human beings.

Scientists and MPs have condemned the creation of the world's first "genetically modified" human beings.

American scientists have announced that two 12-month-old babies are carrying the genes of more than one mother, after undergoing a special form of IVF treatment that has been banned in Britain.

The controversial technique has been perfected by a team from the Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Science, in West Orange, New Jersey. It involves extra material from a donor egg being added to defective eggs in women with a rare form of infertility. But when the process was used, extra material was, say the scientists, inadvertently also transferred to the receiving eggs, containing DNA from the donor egg.

Last night, senior MPs and scientists joined forces to criticise the use of the process.

David Hinchliffe, chairman of the Commons health select committee and an advocate of genetic research into disability and disease prevention, said: "It worries me that, in relation to American research in particular, the ethical dimension seems to come increasingly far down the line, in terms of the priorities that are given by scientists. I think this kind of thing tends to tar the brush of the genuine and important research that is going on."

Lord Winston, one of the UK's leading fertility specialists, who is based at London's Hammersmith Hospital, said: "Regarding the treatment of the infertile, there is no evidence that this technique is worth doing. I am very surprised that it was even carried out at this stage."

The presence of mitochondrial DNA from two women was confirmed by blood tests on the children.

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