This was a short speech, prepared but not delivered. Both Houses of Parliament have now approved the Regulations. It remains to be see how they will work out in practice and whether the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority will be an effective and safe regulator:
“I have received well over two dozen letters and emails from all over England, opposing these Regulations. The scattered senders and different arguments used, show that this has not been an organized campaign. People in various walks of life are genuinely worried about the implications of the Regulations.
There are two quite distinct methods for achieving mitochondrial transfer. Both raise moral issues. We should also be clear that such donations are different in kind from blood or organ donations, since they have the potential to generate new human individuals.
There are other factors to be considered. For example, techniques could be tested on humans, before they have been shown to be safe on non-human primates. Great care is needed about egg transfers and possible payment for these. The destruction of some embryos causes concern about possible eugenic abortions. Others are worried about the genetic modification of future generations.
The American Federal Drugs Agency has so far withheld consent from the techniques we are discussing. Professor Paul Knoepfler, professor of developmental biology at the University of California, has warned British Parliamentarians not to proceed, on safety grounds. We should remember how premature consent was given to the Thalidomide drug, with terrible consequences.
For all these reasons, I urge the House to support the reasoned motion moved by N/L Lord Deben. If we don’t allow more time for evidence-based decisions, the first baby under the new procedures could be born in 2016. There is no reason why this country should rush, to be the first, to enter this uncertain Brave New World”