‘No surprises in the Science and Technology Report on animal/human hybrids,’ said Josephine Quintavalle, Director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics. ‘As expected, the report is simply pages of whole-hearted enthusiasm for unrestricted research with little concern for the broader ethical considerations, and barely a gesture towards world opinion on this highly contentious issue.
‘With no member of the committee expert in the field of stem cell biology or any closely associated discipline, it was embarrassing to follow their unquestioning enthusiasm for the proposals put forward by the very scientists who hope to obtain licences, and to witness their awkward attempts to invent new definitions on the hoof. One such neologism is ‘cytoplasmic hybrid embryo’ which was proposed during evidence sessions but does not appear anywhere in existing scientific journals.
‘Despite the enthusiasm of this small Committee, worldwide there is more opposition than support for the creation of such interspecies entities, and within the United Kingdom as well. The public should now demand an extensive and objective consultation at the highest democratic level, and by this we mean Parliament itself. These are not questions for a handful of self-interested scientists to resolve but for the country at large.
‘And under no circumstances should further consultation in this field be entrusted to the HFEA, which like the Science and Technology Committee, has already expressed its unequivocal support for the creation of animal/human hybrids.
‘The Science and Technology Committee in their report urges the HFEA to fast-track the licence applications currently on hold, even though it is not at all clear that said Authority has the power to do so. CORE certainly does not believe that the HFEA has jurisdiction to issue such licences and has commissioned a legal opinion on this matter. The HFEA claims to have its own legal opinion on this disputed point but refuses to make this document available, not even to Parliament. Is this really a body to be entrusted with further analysis of the animal/hybrid issues?’