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March 5, 2003

MEP leads top level 'designer babies' inquiry

From: This is Local London, UK - 05 Mar 2003

Labour MEP Mrs Eryl McNally is chairing a high level committee in the European Parliament to consider the ethics of genetic testing and "designer babies".

The panel, made up of leaders from industry and science, patients' groups and politicians is drawing on a wide range of evidence including several experts in the field.

Mrs McNally, of Abbots Langley, the co-ordinator on research matters for the European Parliamentary Socialist Group, said: "This issue is a real hot potato and one of very high importance.

"All kinds of related cases are beginning to appear. For instance a lesbian couple in the US, both of whom are deaf, want to have a deaf child by selecting a deaf father.

"Such events are emerging within the EU and we have to have an ethical stance agreed by all those with an legitimate interest.

"Members of the public may not want potential employers or insurers to have the right to know if they are susceptible to certain diseases due to their genetic-make up.

"Should people be able to buy their own testing genetic kit, say off the Internet, or should only doctors be able to carry out such tests?"

Mrs McNally said she would like to hear the the views of people in south west hertfordshire on the issue.

The study will continue for three months before a consensus on ethical guidelines/standards will be published. The guidelines could take the form of self-regulatory initiatives in the scientific community and industry.

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