Embryos:Written question - HL1524

Asked on: 16 July 2015
Department of Health
Embryos
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many human embryos were experimented on or destroyed in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what are the cumulative figures since such procedures were made legal.
A
Answered by: Lord Prior of Brampton
Answered on: 24 July 2015

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended (1990 Act), 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. 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 number of embryos allowed to perish in the last 12 months for which figures are available (1 July 2013 - 30 June 2014) is 174,316.

In relation to the number of embryos allowed to perish since the 1990 Act came into force, the figures are as follows:

Year

Embryos allowed to perish

1990

6

1991

8,164

1992

23,035

1993

27,466

1994

32,176

1995

37,270

1996

47,808

1997

48,024

1998

57,427

1999

77,269

2000

85,938

2001

88,039

2002

96,377

2003

96,309

2004

98,348

2005

100,547

2006

108,080

2007

116,342

2008

112,050

2009

132,536

2010

155,557

2011

168,613

2012

166,631

2013

169,644

Total

2,053,656

This includes embryos that have been thawed and allowed to perish, either because they have reached the end of their permitted storage period or at the request of the patient, and those discarded in the course of treatment.

The HFEA does not hold data in its register of the number of embryos experimented upon.

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