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CLC Legal Challenge to Animal Human Hybrid Licenses

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Issued on behalf of the Christian Legal Centre on legal challenge to Animal - Human Hybrid licences

Press Release

For Immediate Release

9 April 2008

High Court asked to Stop Animal-Hyman Hybrid Experiments

Christians in England have today filed papers at the High Court seeking Judicial Review over the recent decisions by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to grant licences to Newcastle University and King’s College London (Jan 9, 2008) to begin research into degenerative diseases using animal-human hybrids.  Last week Newcastle University claimed to have created the first animal-human embryo.

The legal challenge has been filed on two grounds: that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 does not allow licensing of animal-human hybrid embryos, and in fact contains a prohibition on the creation of such embryos.   Claimants therefore believe no licence can be granted by the HFEA and the HFEA acted beyond its powers.  Secondly,

even if the HFEA did have the power to grant a licence, the HFE Act 1990 provides that no licence can be granted unless (1) it appears to the HFEA that the licence for research is necessary or desirable for one of a number of specified purposes and (2) that the HFEA is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the research.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Barrister and Director of the Christian Legal Centre which is bringing the action, together with Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: “We believe the HFEA acted unlawfully in granting licences permitting the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.  When the 1990 HFE Act was passed it was quite clear that Parliament envisaged the embryo as human and not 'animal-human'. 

“The decisions to grant the licences were not justified in law in that the proposed scientific techniques have been rendered ‘unnecessary’ and ‘undesirable’ by new technical advances; the proposed techniques do not work and raise new scientific problems that will prevent any meaningful research work. Most importantly, the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos is the subject matter of a Bill before Parliament and the ethics, utility and limits of such embryo research is presently the subject of Parliamentary debate.  The HFEA has pre-empted and usurped the will of Parliament. 

“We also believe that the HFEA failed to take into account relevant factors, namely bio-safety issues and/or the impact on the human genome of animal egg factors.”

The creation of animal-human hybrids is an attack on the innate dignity of what it means to be human.

The Christian Legal Centre hopes that the Court will revoke the licenses granted by the HFEA to Newcastle University and King’s College London and order that no further experimentation is carried out. Parliament will decide on this issue in the near future. Furthermore, the thrust of science suggests this line of experimentation will not yield satisfactory results. 

Mrs Williams added: “It is also necessary for the Court to comment on the fact that the 1990 Act said licences can only be granted when deemed necessary or desirable.  This is a legal and proper standard designed to safeguard and protect the embryo. When other alternatives to such controversial research already exist, then it cannot be claimed that such new research is either necessary or desirable.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams 0771 259 1164;


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