Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gene Editing – Designer Babies

From guest blogger, Jane.

With the enhanced recognition of the importance of the biotechnology, scientists are now making possible for couples to go for made-to-order designer babies. Designer baby, one of the human genetic engineering projects, is a direct manipulation on human’s genes. Designer babies are born with certain traits and have the selected desired qualities by using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which is also called pre-implantation genetic profiling, referring to genetic screening of embryos prior to implantation and sometimes even of oocytes prior to fertilization. The main advantage of a designer baby is to reduce the chances of being born with several serious diseases.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks of this make-to-order baby. First of all, changing a baby’s DNA is risky, and there might be unexpected and different levels of damage to the baby. Genetic engineering project itself may not work properly. Selecting a specific type of trait such as hair color may turn off a different type of gene. This problem will not manifest until the baby was born. In addition, the existence of designer babies may make this society unbalanced. In some regions and areas, couples prefer male babies to female ones. In the future, millions of males will finally die out. 

5 comments:

Amara Saffold said...

I feel like as much as one has an image of their ideal baby, this is in no way natural. I have to wonder if the baby is still considered full human? If scientists are messing with its DNA and it is not naturally formed, does it still constitute as being fully human?

I just do not really agree with this. I feel like many people are becoming way to picky and in the end, it is not worth it. If your child has brown eyes instead of blue, is ones world really going to end? What if the child does not resemble you anymore? What if the child has side effects to this DNA tampering? What if the child does not want their genes to be messed with? Is that fair to them?

Julie said...

I think the idea of a "designer baby" is slightly heinous. Pretty much every parent considers their child/children perfect and the best. So the idea that parents would work with scientists to create a baby that they think is "higher quality" than a baby naturally formulated, is almost backwards. When it comes to working to reduce birth defects or diseases, that seems admirable, but at what cost? This concept just leaves me feeling uneasy and concerned about where ideals like this would lead society. So do I think this is immoral? Depending on intention I think it could be just barely morally permissible (i.e. working to decrease birth complications). For the most part, we should stick to how procreation has been going since the beginning of time. Improvement and progression are okay, but limitations need to be in place and thats when our moral ideals can help.

Leona Liu said...

I think having designer babies is permissible if it is only used as a means to avoid genetic diseases. Altering other traits, such as eye colors maintained by Amara, should be prohibited. However, this would still be a dangerous thing to play with because being gay was once considered a disease. Moreover, this is a form of artificial selection, in a degree it is like selecting cows that can produce more milk. While this might seem as a great idea in a short term, we are not certain whether the genes we wipe off from the gene pool will be useful in a later catastrophic event. So this is something people should be really careful about

Tessa Hansen said...

Personally, I think it is too much that people are creating "made to order" babies. What ever happened to just having a baby the standard way? Nowadays, there are so many options and I think we need to remember that the natural way is very safe and health. I agree that genetic engineering is risky, and most importantly, it is not necessary. I also agree with what Amara said above...what about the baby's wishes? Once they are tampered with, they have to live with their genetics for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

I don't see much wrong with designer babies. After all, people try to mate with someone who has qualities that they would like to transmit to their offspring. This is just another way of accomplishing the same thing in a more precise and scientific way. Most of the replies above are either empirically wrong or involve some kind of slippery slope argument that doesn't hold water.The real issue is that, once the science is perfected (so that any adverse consequences for the child are taken care of), then what's the problem?