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Embryos and Foetal Tissue: Overseas Trade

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 130741, tabled on 16 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the traceability of human embryos, gametes and aborted fetal tissue imported into or exported from the UK.

Answered on

11 January 2021

The Human Tissue Act 2004 makes no distinction between pregnancy remains and other tissue from a living person. Tissue for use in human application or for research is regulated by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). HTA-licensed establishments maintain inventories of the material they hold and, by meeting expected standards on coding and records, are able to demonstrate full traceability for the human material for which they are responsible, from receipt to final disposal/disposition. Since 2018, the HTA has collected information from its licenced establishments on the import of fetal material intended for use in human application.

All imported human embryos and gametes and all those transported across UK borders are registered with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), as required by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, and recently updated under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. Further requirements, including traceability requirements, can be found in the General Directions issued by the HFEA and in the HFEA Code of Practice.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care