6 October, 2004
Greens want ban on 'super baby' selection
The Green Party wants to tighten the rules around embryo selection technology to prevent prospective parents from
selecting "designer baby" embryos on cosmetic grounds, such as the colour of eyes, or because of prospective athletic
Green MP Sue Kedgley will be putting amendments up in the House today during Parliament's consideration of the Human
Assisted Reproductive Technology bill to stop the technology being used to select embryos for reasons other than
preventing serious genetic diseases or to increase the likelihood of implantation.
"We strongly support the use of embryo selection techniques such as Pre-implementation Genetic Diagnosis to help couples
who carry genes for disorders such as Huntington's disease and cystic fibrosis ensure that their children are not
afflicted," said Ms Kedgley.
"However we are strongly opposed to the use of this technology for social or eugenic purposes. The problem is that the
way the bill is presently drafted, it could be used to allow people to select embryos for any other genetic
characteristic except sex."
Ms Kedgley said this problem was demonstrated by the new draft guidelines issued by the National Ethics Committee on
Assisted Human Reproduction that may allow the use of the technology to select cosmetic desirable traits in offspring
and screen out undesirable ones on a case-by-case basis.
"We want the bill to make it absolutely clear that embryo selection techniques such as Pre-implantation Genetic
Diagnosis can only be used to prevent serious genetic diseases or disorders or to increase the likelihood of a
"While the bill prohibits the use of the technology for sex selection, it is silent on whether the technology could be
used to select embryos with, for example, improved athletic performance. That's why we are proposing these amendments."
Ms Kedgley noted that UK was much tighter in its regulations around PGD. It only allows a limited number of licensed
clinics to use the technology for severe and life-threatening disorders.
Ms Kedgley's amendments would also allow Parliament to look over the proposed guidelines before they take effect so that
the public and their representatives would have the opportunity to scrutinise them.
"These guidelines will have major ethical dimensions yet they will be issued by a non-elected technical committee.
Parliament and the public have a right to have them examined before they come into force."