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Human Embryo Experiments

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL5959, tabled on 8 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 responses to peer reviewers by the person responsible for the recently approved licence application submitted to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to perform genome editing in human embryos by means of CRISPR-Cas9; to what extent the HFEA’s Executive followed the recommendations raised by both of their peer reviewers; and on how many occasions the HFEA’s Executive have made decisions against the recommendations of all appointed peer reviewers.

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.