Should We Allow Designer Babies?

By: Dhruv Goel

Photograph: Image Source/Getty Images/Image Source (CC BY 4.0)

For many years, scientists have pondered the possibility of genetically modified babies. New techniques for analyzing DNA in many genetic regions at once have begun to make scanning for different traits possible. Companies are starting to offer tests for screening in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos for disease risk and even intelligence rate in some countries.

How Is It Done?

Scientists can alter the DNA code of human embryos. The objective of scientists is to show that they can eradicate or correct genes that cause inherited disease. Scientists have developed a gene-editing technique called CRISPIR. They can use this to change faulty DNA. This feat has been accomplished a few times in America; however, none of the changed embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days due to ethical regulations. In some other countries like China, research is more advanced due to fewer restrictions however, the results are not available to the public.

Is It Good Or Bad?

Pros

  • It increases human lifespan. Editing out an unborn baby’s defective genes and only retaining the healthy genes the baby will grow up healthier. Therefore, it is possible to increase the baby’s overall life expectancy and quality of its life.
  • It reduces the risk of inherited medical conditions such as anemia, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and many more. When scientists use the genetic modification technique to create a genetically modified baby, it will help to reduce the chances of various genetic disorders in the baby. In many instances, these are not only a means to reduce the baby’s chances of getting affected with certain health conditions, but are also a way of increasing its chances of survival.

Cons

  • It can create a huge gap in society. If more parents decide to go for designer babies, the world will soon be divided into a class of babies who are designer babies as compared to normal babies. As a result, those babies who are genetically modified will feel superior to those who are born naturally.
  • It is not error free. The process of genetic modification to create designer babies is still in the experimental stage and needs time and research to progress forward. There is not enough research and no genetically modified baby has been born for scientists to monitor. Genetics are not perfect, which means that it is very possible that error or severe side effects may come up at some point in the future.

Conclusion

We  live in a world where very wealthy people have the money and willingness to pay for procedures to enhance the success of their children. There are many concerns whether it is ethical to interfere with nature and bend it to our will. There should be restrictions on what it is used for. If people are using this technology to change babies for superficial reasons like appearance or intelligence, it should not be allowed. There are natural ways to increase intelligence like studying, and people should not be allowed to take the easy way out. However, if parents are using these methods to correct diseases that the child will most likely get, then that should be allowed. We have to consider if designer babies are the next step in the evolutionary scale or if it is a misstep towards the derailment of our society.

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