Through the MPA, the Church of England contributed to this consultation process, affirming the aim of using mitochondrial replacement (or donation as it is also termed) while also differentiating between the two methodologies being proposed; one of which (pronuclear transfer ”“ PNT) required embryos to be created as mitochondrial donors and recipients, the other (maternal spindle transfer) did not. Although the creation of embryos may be licensed by the HFEA, the MPA pointed out that PNT carried greater ethical concerns for many Christians and, indeed, those of other faiths or none.
More significantly, mitochondrial replacement involves modification of the human germ-line, with donor mitochondria being transmitted to future generations through the maternal line. As well as ensuring the techniques were as safe as possible, concerns were expressed that this would not be taken as approval for modifying defective mitochondrial genes that resided in the nucleus. Other concerns had to do with as yet unknown interactions between the DNA in the mitochondria and the DNA in the nucleus; these might potentially cause abnormality or be found to influence significant personal qualities or characteristics.
Such concerns were recognised by the HFEA in its work and recommendations to the secretaries of state.