Genetically Modified Babies Essay Definition

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Designer Babies

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Designer Babies - by: Noah Martin

A baby born in England was chosen in the embryonic stage to undergo genetic testing, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, also known as PGD (Britt). This was so she could be free of a gene that linked to certain type of cancer. A forty-year-old woman underwent PGD because she had Alzheimer’s disease and was afraid of passing it on to her child. From there she implanted embryos without that gene into her womb (Britt). This gave her the miracle of a healthy baby girl, free of Alzheimer’s. Currently, PGD is only used for similar cases such as the ones above, curing babies of life-affecting diseases. Many people would agree that this is for the greater good of the planet but there are negative results that would come out of this. Also, in the future, PGD could be able to help parents decide what kind of baby they desire. Imagine a world where parents can choose their ideal baby out of a catalogue, being able to ask for an athletic, intelligent, and social child with blue eyes and blonde hair. It would be as easy as ordering a hamburger with all of your favourite toppings in a restaurant. The real question is where to draw the line. Using PGD to cure diseases before birth is questionable, but using PGD just to give a child a competitive edge is unethical.

There are two main reasons why curing diseases with this new technology is wrong. Firstly, it is now possible to detect genetic disorders such as Down syndrome and TaySachs disease, and then the parents have the option to abort the fetus (Giunta). It is possible to receive a false-positive result while being tested. This means that there have been many embryos, future human beings that have been killed needlessly. Secondly, let’s say we use this research to get rid of all genetically transferred diseases. This could affect the flow of the world’s population. The world’s resources are already running out, if the population goes up then there is no telling what could happen (Giunta). There still are positive reasons for getting rid of diseases using PGD. It can save a human being from suffering his/her whole life.

One thing to consider is the social impact of genetically engineering a baby. In the future, if designer babies do come into play, then most of the population will consist of designer babies. One would think, what would happen to the babies that do not have the privilege of being born with these superior qualities? They would most likely be discriminated against. For example, if a designer baby and a non-designer baby are competing for a job. The designer baby is far more superior in every aspect than the non-designer baby. The designer baby would obviously get the job. This leaves the non-designer baby in a situation where they would have to get a low-paying job. Of course we obviously do need good workers for the low-paying jobs, it’s how the world works. But it should be the decision of the child of what they want to do in life and how hard they are willing to work for it. Dr. Steinberg, a pioneer of In Vitro Fertilization, said that "You can say eye colour and hair colour are not diseases, no they're not, and there is a cosmetic element to it, but we fix crooked noses all the time ( News Staff)." This is a valid point but it is hard to compare plastic surgery or nose jobs, with designer babies. Plastic surgery is up to the person who is getting the surgery. With advanced technology they are allowed to change their face into any which way they want. With designer babies it is up to the parents. Maybe the parent’s ideal look for their child is not the way that the actual child wants their look to be. Sure the parents would be happy, but most would agree that it would be better if the child were happy as well. In the article “Designer Babies” written by David Bygott, Bygott made the point of it being no different from parents offering music, sports, and tutors, giving their child every advantage that they can (Bygott). The difference is, music, sports, and school take a lot of hard work to get experienced at. It is a lot different from being born with these qualities, automatically being good at any given activity. Many people born with these so-called undesirable traits say that it is apart of who they are. Nobody has the right to say what should be “fixed” when the people who have these certain traits are perfectly fine with them.

The cost of designer babies is a huge factor to why they are considered unethical. Using this technology is probably going to be very costly, currently people are paying over $18 000 for PGD (Hattie). This would mean that designer babies would only be open to middle-upper class citizens. The lower income citizens would not have the option of choosing designer babies. The lower income citizens of the world are already excluded from so many new innovations because of the cost. The last thing that they need is another obstacle that they have to overcome. Parents want what is best for their child, even the lower class. By giving the option of designer babies only to middle and upper class, it would just give the lower class child an unequal chance of success. For example, when we get back to David Bygott’s point, these lower class citizens will still have to work to be good at every-day activities, how fair is that considering the wealthier kids catch this talent naturally.

The Holocaust is an example in history that shows why making designer babies is unethical. Adolph Hitler and the Nazis set out to create the Aryan Race (the perfect race) during the Holocaust starting in 1939. To achieve their goals they started to eliminate every person that was considered undesirable. This led to the deaths of millions of innocent people. Many Jews, disabled people, political and religious opponents and many more were exterminated, adding up to a total of somewhere between nine and eleven million people (Giunta). When looking back at the Holocaust, most people think of a sad and evil period of time that we are not proud of. Yet now the idea of designer babies comes running into the picture and it makes us realize, we haven’t come that far at all. This is exactly where the quote “If history is forgotten it is doomed to repeat itself” comes into play. The only difference between the Holocaust and designer babies is that instead of killing human beings that are out of a womb, we would be killing undesirable cells and embryos. Some people would think that cells and embryos aren’t living yet; it’s just like an abortion. The fact is that these cells and embryos will soon grow up into babies. Instead of taking a life away from a human being, you will be killing something that hasn’t even gotten a chance at life. When designer babies come into China, a country that values all baby boys above baby girls, what will happen to their race (Guinta)? The population of boys in china would be much higher than girls. The only difference between designer babies and the Nazis is that many people feel that designer babies are for the good of the planet, but in reality, they aren’t.

In conclusion, genetically designing babies is unethical. Even curing babies using this new technology has its negative effects. Just because we have the power to “play God” doesn’t mean it is ethical to do such a thing. It would affect people all over the world. There is no excitement when knowing everything about your child before the child even knows, some things are best left untouched. The choice is left to us, whether we should risk repeating history by going back to the days of Hitler’s genocide. Or we can stay as we are, leaving the future of our babies up to chance. Whether we should have all human beings born equal at birth, or having the lower-class citizens discriminated against. There is still a lot of time to think about this issue because we still have years until we find all the genes that make up hair, eye colour and any other traits. Though unless we want chaos when the time comes, and it will come, we should start thinking about it now.

Submitted by: noahmartin189

Tagged...Designer, Babies, Noah, ethical, debatable

When two people decide to have a child, they're making a decision to pass on their DNA to a baby, with all the advantages and disadvantages written into that code.

New gene editing tools could soon give us the ability to directly manipulate that genetic blueprint. And despite the controversial implications of the term "designer baby," some argue that taking a more active role in that process — eliminating a few disadvantages, or even tweaking the code to add a few extra benefits, like disease resistance or stronger muscles — is totally ethical, perhaps even a normal decision that we'll all make for our children in the future.

For now, most of the world is very unsure about this.

When researchers in China published a paper showing that they had (somewhat) successfully edited the genes of human embryos, most observers condemned the idea.

Some criticized the group's scientific capabilities: The researchers' work showed so many unpredicted and unwanted changes that many read it as proof that we shouldn't use that technology in human embryos, since those off-target effects would probably cause deadly or debilitating mutations.

Others saw this work as the scary sign of a dark future: These embryos were non-viable, meaning they were never going to lead to an actual baby. Yet making similar manipulations using an embryo that was going to be implanted and born would lead to changes that would affect more than the child that came from that embryo. These changes would also be passed on to any children these modified children had — we'd be taking a much more active, or at least technologically-enabled, hand in shaping the evolution of the human species than ever before.

For those reasons at least, right now, "everyone agrees that we shouldn't engineer a baby," says George Annas, a bioethicist at Boston University.

But what's true for now won't be true forever.

Technology is improving rapidly

Researchers are improving the accuracy of genome-editing technology at an incredible pace.

The technology the researchers from Sun Yat-sen University used to snip out and replace bits of genetic code is called CRISPR. But despite the unwanted mutations that occurred when that team modified embryos, Harvard geneticist George Church told Tech Insider that researchers are already using far more accurate versions of that technology.

Church and others say that it's already possible in some cases to edit genes with few or even almost zero unwanted mutations, suggesting that the accuracy problem will eventually be solved.

If researchers really can modify the genetic code for a human without unwanted mutations, the only question that remains is whether or not it should be done.

An ethical quandary

Is it right to change a person's DNA before they are even born, not to mention old enough to give consent?

Some researchers, like sociologist and bioethicist James Hughes of Trinity College, think that the answer could be yes.

"We allow parents to have children if they have all kinds of problems," says Hughes.

Hughes asks: If a parent were to come along and want to change the genome of their child "and the goal of this is to make sure a kid doesn't have depression or doesn't end up obese" — interesting in theory, but likely not actually possible given the complex web of environmental and genetic causes behind those conditions — "on what ground does the state then step in?"

His argument is that we don't stop people from passing on what we consider "bad" genetic codes, things that might make a person's life harder, so we shouldn't stop people from trying to provide someone with a "good" genetic code.

Hughes doesn't think we're ready to make those sorts of changes yet; he says it'd be perfectly reasonable for the government to prohibit genetically modifying human embryos until it's adequately tested and shown to be safe — still quite a high bar to pass.

But he thinks that genetically enhanced humans in the form of designer babies are going to happen.

"The research happens everywhere," he says. "In particular, it's going to happen in China."

China is a center for research into genetics and genetic engineering, and one of the most comprehensive projects that's trying to decode the links between genetics and intelligence is run by BGI, a nonprofit institution in China and the largest genomics research institute in the world.

As Hughes previously told Tech Insider, he thinks that deciding whether or not you modify the genome of your child will eventually become just the sort of regular decision that people make.

In his opinion, "those kinds of choices will become inevitable, and we'll adapt to them relatively well."

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