The British government today (August 16) launched a major consultation on the laws governing the technology and techniques used to assist human reproduction and embryo research.

The consultation will seek views on a host of topics, including the rules governing screening and selecting embryos for medical purposes, the definition of an embryo for research purposes, and the regulation of research into mitochondrial disease.

The consultation follows a government commitment in January 2004 to review and update the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, originally written in 1990. "The HFE Act was a landmark piece of legislation which has stood the test of time well," said Public Health Minister Caroline Flint in a statement. "However, we never expected that the act would remain forever unchanged in the face of major developments in science and medicine."

Alison Murdoch, head of the Newcastle Fertility Centre, agreed that the time for an overhaul...

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