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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Children donor awareness rejected
Early embryo
The bill is expected to be included in the Queen's Speech
Ministers have rejected calls to force parents who have children via egg or sperm donation to register the fact on the birth certificate.

An earlier report by a joint committee of MPs and peers had said by not doing it the state was complicit in a lie.

But the government did respond to other criticisms by the committee of its draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill.

It said the two regulators in the field will not be merged and limits on inter-species embryos will be relaxed.

The government originally proposed banning the creation of any embryo containing human and animal cells in a white paper last December.

This bill will allow legitimate medical scientific use of human reproductive technologies for research to flourish in this country
Dawn Primarolo, health minister

But it reversed its decision this year in a bill which indicated ministers were minded to allow hybrid embryos which were 99.9% human and 0.1% animal, following a backlash by scientists and patient groups.

It has now announced in its response to the joint committee set up to look at the draft bill that it will allow any inter-species embryo as long as the regulator agrees it is necessary.

The joint committee had questioned why if the government was allowing hybrid research it had placed an arbitrary limit on it.

And ministers also said that they will not go-ahead with the proposed merger of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority.

The merger would have brought together the regulation of IVF clinics, fertility research, and the storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissues.

The joint committee said this would have undermined public trust.

On the matter of having egg or sperm donor mentioned on the birth certificates, ministers believe it is a matter for the parents to discuss with their children and forcing such measures on to parents would be a "step too far".

The bill, which is expected to be included in the Queen's Speech in November, also includes a ban on sex selection for non-medical reasons and the removal of the need for a father clause.

'Flourish'

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said they were complex issues and the government had wanted to remain open minded about the regulators merger and embryo research in particular.

She said ministers had taken the arguments of parliament and other interested parties on board.

"This bill will allow legitimate medical scientific use of human reproductive technologies for research to flourish in this country."

The measures have been welcomed by scientists.

Professor Martin Bobrow, of the Academy of Medical Sciences said: "We have always maintained that there are no substantive ethical or moral reasons not to proceed with research on human embryos containing animal material under the current framework or regulatory control.

"We are pleased to see the government has accepted this position."

And Dr Simon Fishel, managing director of the Care Fertility Group, said the merger of the regulatory bodies would have set the scientific community "back rather than take us forward".

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, added: "The BMA is delighted that the government has shown itself willing to listen to the serious concerns that the roles of the HFEA and HTA are so different that it be would wrong to merge them."



SEE ALSO
Hybrid embryo ban 'unnecessary'
05 Apr 07 |  Health
Public debate on hybrid embryos
11 Jan 07 |  Health

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