Human Embryo Experiments

Department of Health written question – answered on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the Answer of 24 February 2014 by Earl Howe on 24 February 2014, Official Report, columns WA174-5, how many human embryos have been destroyed in the UK; and how many of those embryos were generated by (a) somatic cell nuclear, (b) pronuclear and (c) spindle-chromosomal complex transfer.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) provides that human embryos created by in vitro fertilisation that are not transferred to a patient, cannot be allowed to develop beyond a maximum of 14 days. At that stage, the embryos are about the size of the head of a pin.

The 1990 Act also provides that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) cannot licence research using human embryos unless the research is necessary or desirable for the purposes specified in the Act and the use of embryos is necessary.

The HFEA has advised that the current total number of embryos that were allowed to perish in 2012 is 166,631.

The HFEA has also advised that it does not hold records of those embryos that have been generated by somatic cell nuclear transfer, pronuclear transfer, and spindle-chromosomal complex transfer.

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