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Geneticist Urges Law to Regulate Use of Test-tube Technology

A senior Chinese geneticist Sunday said China should enact a law to curb the abuse of test-tube technology for fear of an increasing risk of intermarriages in the coming decades.


"Legislation is the most effective way to avoid the abuse of test-tube technology and curb the side-effect of artificial fertilization devices," Prof. Lu Guangxiu, a noted geneticist and member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.


Chinese doctors have become more familiar, and practiced, with the test-tube technology since the country's first test-tube baby was born in 1988, said Lu.


"Those who may resort to the technology make up merely 1 percent of all the Chinese couples of childbearing age," she said." But the demand is pretty high given the huge population base of 1.3 billion in China."


Besides, many hospitals are anxious to offer the service, eyeing its huge profits, she added.


One of the most worrying consequences of the abuse of test-tube technology is the unbalanced gender ratio of the newborn population, said the professor. Statistics provided by China's health authorities say about 117 baby boys are being born in China against every 100 girls.


On the other hand, management loopholes at sperm banks may increase the risk for today's test-tube babies to intermarry in the future without knowing anything about their kinship, Lu warned.


Prof. Lu founded China's first human sperm bank in central China's Hunan Province in 1981. Her father, Prof. Lu Huilin, is believed to be the forerunner in China's genetic studies.


(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2005)


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