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Human Embryo Experiments

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL5773, tabled on 2 February 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 27 January (HL5039), whether they will place in the Library of the House a full copy of the original licence application submitted to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to perform genome editing in human embryos by means of CRISPR-Cas9; whether this will also be published on the HFEA website, and if not, why not; and whether the HFEA will provide a full report on its website of how the ethical implications of genome editing in human embryos had been considered before giving approval to proceed.

Answered on

11 February 2016

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) publishes on its website the inspection report relating to a licence renewal application and the minutes of the Licence Committee’s decision. It does not publish other information associated with a licence application.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) permits the genetic modification of embryos in research, subject to an HFEA licence. As the regulator, the HFEA’s responsibility is to apply the test in the legislation, namely that the research is necessary or desirable for any of the purposes specified in the Act and that the use of embryos is necessary. The Licence Committee has added a condition to the licence that no research using genome editing may take place until it has received approval from an NHS Research Ethics Committee.