Dutch health council authorises the creation of human embryos for research

The Dutch Health Council (Gezondheidsraad) has recommended that scientists be allowed to create embryos specifically for research purposes, in a move that will pave the way for embryo gene editing research in the Netherlands.

In a report submitted Tuesday to Minister for Health Edith Schippers, the Health Council recommended that the government abandon the current regulations that only allow research scientists to use embryos left over from procedures such as IVF.

Instead, the Council suggests that government develop and “updated legal and moral framework” that allows for the creation of embryos specifically for research. The exact ethical framework is yet to be developed, and Council spokesman Eert Schoten said that the initial experimentation should only take place under “strict conditions”.

If the regulations are changed, scientists will be able to edit embryos in a way that are unable to with excess IVF embryos. It will facilitate research into hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  

Critics say that the recommendations signal a slippery slope toward using human life as a “research tool”. Speaking with De Volkscrant, Erasmus University health law lecturer Ernst Hulst said he was “absolutely opposed” to the proposed changes.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | embryo experimentation, embryo research, gene editing, law, netherlands

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