Designer babies is a very powerful technology that will keep developing and expanding its uses. It will shape our future in many ways. How it changes our future depends on us. If we decide to use this technology for medical uses only, it will bring humans into a new era free from devastating diseases like Hemophilia A or some types of cancer; however, if we decide to use this technology to create “super humans”, we might be putting the first stepping stone towards the destruction of humanity (genetically and evolutionary speaking). This technology needs to be used, but it needs to be used correctly and in order for this to happen, people need to stay involved and critical regarding Designer Babies.
You are unique. Born into a family, you are the culmination of months’ worth of waiting and patience from your parents. The moment you are born may very well be the best day of their lives. Though you may not be very respectful at times, they still love you just as much as they did before. If they could change you though…if they could have put you together before you were born…would they? In the society of today, technology and human intellect are increasing at an astonishing rate. While the two may be equal at this moment, there will come a time where technology will overtake human intellect and may very well change the way we look at society today more than it ever has before. Genetic engineering is one of the first steps towards this change. Though it started out on animals and plants, genetic engineering is beginning to move towards the more aggressive altering of human genes. In a few years, the line separating “god” from “mortal” may become nothing more than an afterthought. In doing so, this paper shall also elaborate on genetic engineering’s history and current advances along with its potential misuses and limitations.
In 1913 Teddy Roosevelt, who is considered to be one of the greatest US presidents to serve in office, wrote to the Department of Genetics, “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind [...]. The problem cannot be met unless we give full consideration to the immense influence of heredity....” (Dykes, 2008, p. 1). What Teddy Roosevelt was referring to was the idea of enhancing the human population. Today genetic enhancement is paired specifically with technology, but throughout history genetic enhancement has been a very popular but controversial topic. It can be dated back to ancient times when men would pick wives who the men felt would reproduce the best offspring. Then genetic enhancement became extremely popular in the 19th century when Charles Darwin brought the idea of natural selection and eugenics to society. And it is taking new leaps today, where technology is being introduced with genetic enhancement. With this new technology scientists and ethicists are having a hard time trying to find an answer of whether or not this new and growing technology of genetic enhancement should be permitted. We, society, need to analyze the situation very carefully and ask ourselves, should genetic enhancement be allowed in society, or should it not?
The idea of designer babies has been around for a very long time, in various media, video games all the way to on-screen movies. Only recently through massive breakthrough of technology and science can genetically modified babies actually be possible for the future. The definition of the expression ‘designer baby’ is “a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with invitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.” (Oxford University, 2005) This type of technology has been around for little over 10 years, but has just started branching to human beings. Farmers and growers use genetic engineering in their flowers and crops to “produce organisms that will possess desirable characteristics, such as high crop yields, resistance to disease, high growth rate and many other phonotypical characteristics that will benefit the organism and species in the long term.” (Butler, 2012) There is a large debate if using this type of technology on the human race is ethical. People who disagree with this technology declare limits on science with a moral or religious standpoint. The group of citizens who agree with genetic engineering in babies feel that guidelines will be applied to prevent foul play with human genes and characteristics.
Gene therapy and genetic engineering are tools given to patients as preventive measures or drastic last option treatments. They currently can prevent a genetic illness or disease in a fetus or give a stage four cancer patient a last chance at a long and healthy life. This treatment does come along with many risks and possible side effects. Advancements in these technologies may allow extremely wealthy parents to create “designer babies” which could result in a major issue; a social class caste system based on physical and character related traits, abilities, and talents. Gene therapy and genetic engineering have many more factors weighing on the negative side than the positive, which is why it should not be tolerated in the United States nor anywhere else.
With the dawn of designer children, the control of evolution could be in the hands of those willing to pay for it. As disparities in healthcare continue to grow, those who could not afford gene therapy could become marginalized, and humanity could witness the establishment of a genetic elite.
Naik, Gautam. "'Designer Babies:' Patented Process Could Lead to Selection of Genes for Specific Traits." Ghose, Tia, and Staff Writer. "The Ethics Of 'Designer Babies'" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.
Since the beginning of scientific research, the information discovered has led to many technological breakthroughs and advancements at a rapid pace. The velocity of the incoming discoveries may allow one to overlook the powerful emphasis we as humans hold over human life itself. While human research has been developing an understanding of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) since Friedrich Miescher isolated the double-helix shaped molecule, efforts in recent decades to map the human genome have instigated a great amount of opportunity to the potential manipulation of the basic elements of life. This potential had escalated to a reality by 2001, as the first genetically altered babies had been born and were confirmed by scientists to be genetically altered. These successful operations have sparked a mass overflow of possibility and further technological advancements with regard to human genetic modification (Whitehouse). While there is an enormous amount of potential in human genetic modification, there is an equal amount of controversy that questions the ethics of such practices. For example, should the ability to modify a child’s genetic code be viewed as a technological possibility, or should it be a social obligation to ensure that all children are disease-free? Should it be the parents’ right to modify their unborn child’s genetic code to whatever they wish or see fit? Or should the fetus hold the right to live a life without genetic modification? There are many valid arguments for both positive and negative aspects of human genetic engineering. To make a claim concerning the ethics of human genetic engineering, one must analyze each potential point in order for their opinion to hold validity.
What do one think of when they hear the words “Designer Babies”? A couple designing their own baby of course, and it’s become just that. Technology has made it possible for there to be a way for doctors to modify a babies characteristics and its health. Genetically altering human embryos is morally wrong, and can cause a disservice to the parents and the child its effecting.
With technology advancing more quickly than even our own minds can comprehend, the effects of these advancements cannot be measured in our time, as they are just beginning to reveal themselves. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of biotechnology, where researchers are changing the way people look at themselves as individuals with imperfections. The newly mapped human gene sequence provides scientists with the tools needed to manipulate, 'fix', or alter the human genetic code to create a person with any specifications desired in a human. Just the idea of a person engineered to specific criteria boggles the mind with questions about the implications on society, not to mention the unforeseen consequences that could lurk in the nearby future. In a world as populous as today's, the sense of self, rooted within each person, becomes more important than ever. As time passes with more hi-tech advancements, people will have to deal with the outcomes of the human genome project, some of which can be investigated before work begins on implementing research into everyday healthcare and others that still wait to be stumbled upon.