Saniya ShahMr. IngramPeriod 513 December 2017 Designer Babies Are a Big NoGenetic engineering is basically the altering of the DNA in an organism’s genome. Over recent years, genetic engineering has gained quite some attention. Genetic engineering is already in use today. An ongoing research is genetically altering the DNA or genes of babies.
As this ongoing study becomes more popular, more people are being attracted to the idea of having “designer” babies. However, people should not be allowed to genetically alter a baby’s genes because it is immoral, unethical, and it has numerous risks. To begin with, genetically altering a baby’s genes will result in a loss of individuality.
All humans are different and the key to those differences is DNA. According to the article, “Genome Variations,” all humans share 99.9 percent of identical DNA (Genome Variations). Only 0.1 percent of a person’s DNA sequence determines the vast number of differences they have. In the article, “CRISPR for Human Embryos? Diseases, Yes – Designer Babies, No,” the author, Philip Perry states, “Should we continue to embrace individuality, or are we destined to edit out everything that makes us unique, creating a race of beautiful, bland, healthy geniuses, and in the end, losing heterogeneity?” (Perry, 2017). Without that 0.1 percent of DNA that makes humans different, humans would be duplicates of each other.
Not to mention, genetically altering genes negates almost everything that people have fought for until today. For instance, countless people have fought for gender and racial equality. With genetically altering a baby’s genes, people essentially have the chance to change their child’s skin color and even the gender of their child.
It has taken the human population a long time to accept each other for each other’s differences and flaws, and genetically altering a baby’s genes is a step in the wrong direction.Furthermore, the process of genetically altering a baby’s genes is not error free. Combining technology with biology is not only risky, but also unpredictable. In the article, “‘Designer babies’ won’t be a fad. It’s too hard to create them,” the authors, Alex Berezow and Ben Locwin state that, “By accident, other parts of the genome — known as “off-target” sites— could be edited, instead” (Berezow and Locwin).
This could result in the editing of other genes that could lead to the altering of numerous traits. Additionally, this could result in the appearance of other defects and diseases that would not have been there in the first place if the baby’s genes were not being altered. Moreover, like with most technology, genetic engineering is nowhere near perfect. Berezow and Locwin also point out that, “The traits we care about, such as intelligence, physical ability, height and skin color, are all polygenic”(Berezow and Locwin). Polygenic traits are traits that are controlled by two or more genes. In simpler words, just inserting one gene into an embryo would result in minimum change.
Even traits that may seem simple to others, such as eye color or hair color, are polygenic. In fact, majority of personality traits tend to be polygenic. Even if these changes were somehow made, they would not last a very long time. Berezow and Locwin further mention that, “The researchers themselves expressed surprise at how difficult it would be in practice to genetically modify genes and have them ‘stick'”(Berezow and Locwin). In other words, even if changes were made in the genome, it would be extremely challenging to get the changes to last over a longer period of time. These issues are just a few out of the innumerable things that could go wrong if a baby’s genes were genetically altered.In addition, genetically altering a baby’s genes has the potential to create a gap in society for a large number of reasons. This process will not be, by any means, cheap.
Stephanie Hertzenberg mentions in the article, “Is Genetic Engineering Ethical,” that, “It could lead to a constantly deepening divide between those who were genetically enhanced or improved and those who were not. This divide might follow current class lines depending on the monetary cost of genetic engineering” (Hertzenberg). Not everyone will be able to afford to genetically modify their child, and as a result, there may be a divide beginning to form. As a result of this new divide, the designer babies will have a feeling of superiority over the naturally born babies. Some might say genetically altering a baby’s genes may lead to an increase in overall life expectancy. If genetically altering babies leads to longer human lifespan, then several conflicts arise.
For one, an increase in lifespan could change the way humans live their lives completely, even if one does not opt for genetically altering their child. For example, there may be competition for jobs between the young and the middle-aged. There may also be an increase in people struggling to provide for their families as the elderly live longer and more children are born. Hertzberg explains that, “Opponents of human genetic modification point out that the earth is already struggling to support a population of 7.
2 billion people. Lengthening the average human lifespan would place even greater stress on an already overburdened planet”(Hertzenberg). Humans are already depleting the resources available to them at an exceedingly fast rate. By increasing human lifespan, resources will be depleted faster. To add on, numerous countries, such as China and India, are already overpopulated. Thus, the increasing of human lifespan will pose as more of a threat than a benefit.Finally, genetically modifying a baby’s genes should not be allowed because the baby has no choice in the matter. The question that has to be contemplated is if genetically modifying a baby’s genes is fair to the baby.
The baby is never really given a choice in anything. Mairi Levitt explains in the article, “Would you edit your unborn child’s genes so they were successful?” that, “Are we too busy to provide opportunities and wait and see what the child’s hopes, talents and ambitions may be?” (Levitt). People are essentially playing with another human’s life by altering their genes. Any change could have an enormous impact on that baby’s life. When altering the genes of a baby, people do not take into consideration what that baby wants, what that baby likes, what that baby wants to do with their life, with the life that they were meant to have.
People are essentially taking away the opportunity for that child to learn and grow as life progresses. The life that is being changed needs to be put into consideration.All in all, people should not be allowed to genetically alter a baby’s genes because it will result in a loss of individuality, the process is not perfect, it has the potential to create an enormous gap in society, and the baby does not have a voice in the matter.
This technology will be present in the not so distant future. The thing that is left to our judgment is if this technology is really worth risking the way we live our lives today. By accepting this unethical technology, humans would be giving up their morals and values.Works CitedAlex Berezow, and Ben Locwin. “‘Designer babies’ won’t be a fad. It’s too hard to create them.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Sept. 2017, www.
usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/09/08/human-embryo-editing-wont-lead-designer-babies-berezow-locwin-column/581489001/. Accessed 5 December 2017.”Genome Variations.” GNN – Genome News Network, 15 Jan. 2003, www.
genomenewsnetwork.org/resources/whats_a_genome/Chp4_1.shtml. Accessed 7 December 2017.Hertzenberg, Stephanie.
“Is Genetic Engineering Ethical.” Genetic Engineering Debate | Is Genetic Modification Ethical – Beliefnet – Page 2, Beliefnet, Inc. and/or its licensors, www.beliefnet.com/news/is-genetic-engineering-ethical.aspx?p=2. Accessed 5 December 2017.Levitt, Mairi.
“Would you edit your unborn child’s genes so they were successful?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Nov. 2015, www.theguardian.
com/sustainable-business/2015/nov/03/designer-baby-pgd-would-you-edit-your-unborn-child-genes-more-successful. Accessed 6 December 2017.Perry, Philip. “Genome Editing Has Begun – How Will It Be Controlled?” Big Think, 19 Feb. 2017, bigthink.com/philip-perry/when-it-comes-to-gene-editing-human-embryos-diseases-yes-designer-babies-no.
Accessed 3 December 2017.