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Foster: Time For Congress To Seriously Consider Implications of Human Genetic Engineering

Feb 3, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – In response to today’s news that the British Parliament passed legislation to allow “three-parent” in vitro fertilization (IVF) medical procedures, Congressmen Bill Foster (IL-11) is calling on Congress to start considering the implications of human genetic engineering. Foster is the only Ph.D. physicist in Congress and is the chair of the R&D caucus.

“Today’s vote in Britain on mitochondrial donation is the starting bell in what will undoubtedly be a global race to test the limits of human genetic engineering,” said Foster. “There are many potential benefits to genetic engineering -- mitochondrial donation, and other recently developed techniques, may help prevent families from facing devastating diseases. However, advances in human genetic engineering will test the limits of our legal and ethical systems. For more than a year, scientists have been calling on Congress to seriously consider the implications of recent breakthroughs. It’s time for Congress to start paying closer attention to this issue as the science quickly develops.”

Today, Britain became the first country to vote to allow mitochondrial donation, a procedure that would allow “three-parent” IFV.  Mitochondrial damage causes more than 200 diseases – problems this procedure could prevent, but as we expand our genetic engineering capabilities, many legal and ethical questions need to be addressed.

“At a time when our elected officials are debating such settled science as the value of vaccinations, it is more important than ever that we begin to rationally consider these scientific and moral issues. While genetic engineering has the potential to save and improve many lives, it opens the door to new bioethical questions that need to be asked,” added Foster.