June 24th, 2075.
Imagine you walk into a store, but instead of “Build-a-Bear”, its “Build-a-Baby”.
Cute, right? You get to build your own little baby doll, adorable! It’ll be the perfect little doll you always dreamed of, with curly brown hair, light blue eyes and freckles. Maybe you can actually have a conversation with it, maybe it has real tears… maybe a… real heart?
That’s the questions of the century. Could parents actually choose to genetically modify their baby? The idea is slowly becoming a reality, known as a designer baby.
A designer baby is known as a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected, according to this website.
Today, the science is limited to allowing parents and doctors to screen embryos and genetic disorders and select health embryos, according to Bionet. This science, though sometimes controversial, could reduce the chance that a child is born with a genetic disorder. According to the article, the only two legal processes of advanced reproduction are choosing the sperm to fertilize an egg which in turn determines the sex and genes of the baby, and Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which screens embryos for genetic diseases.
However, the future fear is that scientists and doctors will be able to genetically modify the embryo to decide certain “desirable trains or cosmetic characteristics,” in essence a designer baby. Scientists, specifically Dr. Steinberg have recently made rapid advancements in the knowledge of our human genome, as well as the ability to modify and change genes.
Scientists are also developing a method known as Germ Line Therapy, which is though to be able to cure diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis but replacing the certain sects of DNA. Currently, it is illegal to do on humans.
This topic is very common and very controversial. Personally, I believe that this new science goes against the ethics of science, as we’ve commonly discussed in class.
Being able to test the health of a child is a wonderful technological advancement. Being able to prepare parents for the possibility of an underdeveloped or special needs child before they arrive is also great. What is not great is the possibility that a parents could choose the specific traits of their child, including intelligence and athletic abilities. Not only is this unethical, it also poses many questions, such as the limits to this science and where and when this should be allowed. According to an article posted on Livescience, this technology is not too far in the future.
A company known as 23andme and recently awarded a patent to test the ability to choose hair color, athletic aptitude, according to the article (read more about the company here.) This does not change the fact that a child’s personal identity is not dependent on their physical traits. A child could be cloned as a supermodel, and their individual characteristic leads them to be a technician instead.
There are endless pros and cons to this touchy subject. Some pros include: reduced risk of genetic disease, mental conditions, etc., increased life span, prevent future generations from inheriting harmful genes/diseased. The cons include: termination of embryos, a genetic “gap” in society due to lack of diversity, damage gene pool, disregard baby’s choice, loss of individuality.
I am pleased with this research; however, would like these studies to further elaborate on the future regulations that could be posed on this developing science. It is undeniable that our world is ever-changing and that science will continue to pose questions of ethics and morals, but this topic is one that could potentially impact the entire world. I would like to know what the government is doing to work with scientists to develop this new technology, and how the government plans to regulate it. Also, it would be important to note which countries allow for genetic screening, and which are simply opposed to the idea all together. Also, could the future and safety of our children be at risk?
For now, I’m going to continue my life knowing I am 50% my mother, 50% my father and 0% science, even if that means I’m 5’2” with a medium build, frizzy hair and oily skin.