Another IVF pioneer predicts revival of eugenics

Michael Cook
13April 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Lord Robert Winston, IVF pioneer, is stumping about the British countryside doing what he does best, acting the gadfly. In a three-lecture series called Sex in Three Cities, organised by the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, he predicts the revival of eugenics. Society must be prepared, he told The Scotsman newspaper:

"It is an issue that is more serious now in some ways because of the commercialisation of reproductive medicine, increasingly so with climate change, global warming, water shortages, food shortages, conflict and burgeoning technology that is not always well controlled by governments. It may well be an area that will rear its ugly head again. We should be on our guard against it."

The new eugenics will be privatised and in sync with the market economy:

"Now we have technology where we can modify the genomics of individuals by gene transfer and genetic meddling. We may find that people will want to modify their children, enhance their intelligence, their strength and their beauty and all the other so-called desirable characteristics. That is going to become an increasing risk as a market. That will be a form of eugenics which will actually have all sorts of serious implications for developed societies."

Is Britain prepared? Not on your nelly: its fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is incompetent.

"I am going to argue that the regulatory framework that we have in this country is almost completely pointless. That is something I strongly feel about. I think that the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is not capable of regulating either the commercial aspects of reproductive technologies or the risks that people who undergo these technologies really run."