Should We Design Our Babies?

22 Jun

In this new era of genetic scientific breakthroughs, with projects like the Human Genome Project it has led to huge increases in current genetic research. Not only have we completely sequenced the human  have give us the technology and information to identify every chromosome and gene that makes us humanity. With this new knowledge and the expansive of private genetic research, many scientists and corporations have theorized that in the future we will be able to completely pick and choose the traits that are expressed in our off-spring creating what is now called a designer baby.

The term design baby connotes that these wee kids would be similar to something piece of Gucci or Versaci. Expensive and fabulous, but do we really want to go down the road where our offspring become some handcrafted commodity, rather than something more natural? It is true the appeal of designer babies are real – People want the smartest, most handsome, athletic and outgoing children as possible and if you could just pay a clinic to enhance your baby, many people would. Right now even without these techniques being real, parents still want to know what sex their children are, any diseases they might have  and based on those factors people make the choice wheater or not to have these children.

This is an issue in the US as well as in the third world. In countries like India or Chine male children are desired much more than girls. Now with widespread technology to determine the gender of a baby is before it is born it has has resulted in a higher rate of abortions in these countries. Noteably in India more and more families want to birth males over females and this is causing the same kind of demographic distortion that was seen in china in recent decades. If this is happening now, what could happen when genetically modifying babies becomes widespread and affordable.

There are many ethical questions involved in making babies a commodity. First, it is okay for us to go into human genitics that is 3.8 billion years old and start messing around with it the same way we do with crops and animals? I think we need be to more cautious before we start making these more artificial humans not only because it blurred the line between what it means to be a person similar to the human cloning debate, but also there could be other genetic repercussions to the entire gene pool. Furthermore, with the future generations being seen as commodities, we might value human life even less than we do now or others could see these genetically altered babies could be viewed as abominations by much of society.

If families start wanting the most superior offspring, then we become like technology, wanting the newest model and best upgrades. No only will this cause problems within families because a two kids born 5 years apart could have massive genetic differences, but as these practices would spread throughout the globe huge class resentment and hatred of these less than natural people. I just hope that there is caution when this technology becomes a reality, something is happening right now. Also, it has to be mentioned that several corporations seek the purest genetic pools (Isolate societies) to do their research on and this has meant sending researchers into the jungles to find indigenous people and steal their valuable genes. The United Nations even passed a law protecting the rights of the indigenous people as they were being unfairly taken advantage of.

It is not hard to imagined a world where we totally control the entire development of a person from conception to birth. Huxley foresaw the potential danger through Brave New World. People are divided by their genetic level of enhancement and people lives are determined by what they genetics are.  I think for now we as a society struggle enough creating divisions based on race, ethnicity, and religion that if we added this new degree of seperation, between normal and super humans, it could end up badly in. Also what happens to our genetic pool when these designer babies grow up and mix their genes with the rest of the population? Will there be strange changes to human genetics or will it all work out fine? I just hope the scientific community is consulted before companies try to produce babies that gentically modified, because if they are not, ethics and the welfare of the general population will be less important than profits.

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One Response to “Should We Design Our Babies?”

  1. evologynow June 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Technology is definitely a double-edged sword.

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