We are genetic Gods, but what about our children? (part 1)
Serious science and technology press is touting the recent advancements not evolutionary but revolutionary. In the course of less than a decade have we gone from unprecise and methods with random results at best, to clinically precise incision into each and single gene. This coupled with the Genome project is beginning to give us limitless powers. The genetically engineered embryoes and babies are not science fiction stuff fare but the stuff which you and I will be forced to deal with in the next decade, if you want a healthy baby. If you think that’s a mouthful, listen to this.
The company Fertility industries which works with what they call “Balancing the family” will gladly help you out with your family. For a small sum of USD 10K they offer a treatment which will enable you to choose the sex of your child. The clinic guarantees almost 100% success rate and if it’s a failure there is even amoney back guarantee. How about that folks? The clinic supposedly also executes close to 400 of these treatments every year. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. As if the sex choice didn’t ring any alarm bells, the clinic also suggest you might wanna choose the color of your baby’s eyes or hair. Through the process of Preimplanation Diagnosis, the embryos are chosen and discarded in the name of beauty and parent’s whimsical estethic choices. The whole thing caused quite a public stir. At which the clinic decided to withdraw the abovementioned offer. But for how long and in what other shape will this appear in?
“Interference into the embryo line has become a reality. A first and serious step has been made towards creating a man made to order. Before the discovery of the CrispR method, scientists thought a man made in a lab was a horror story straight from a science fiction film. But this far flung sci-fi story has turned out be here and now.” Der Spiegel
You would think that the ethical borders would be easy to set in this matter. Wouldn’t that be the easiest way to end this discussion? One thing is to cure serious diseases like cancer, Aids, Autism and Huntington but another are comsetical changes to our offspring with the goal of creating better versions of ourselves. Isn’t that clearly desginer babies at work? And aren’t we forgetting a simple fact, that children are not things or objects which can be manipulated at will, but living and breathing beings who deserve even more compassion, because of their fragile and semi-concious state. But the answers in these matters are still far from clear cut.
Despite that the genetic therapies can be the root to healing even the most serious current diseases, it is still very difficult to state if these modifications will not cause any unwanted side effects. And we are not just talking about some unwanted side effects which would be relatively easy to reveal at birth. But about side effects which could ripple downward several generations without being noticed early on. These sideffects could show up even a 100 years later and have a devastating effect on not only a family but they could spread out all over the gene pool and conatminate it. How do you reverse this kind of Godlike enginnering? How do you undo God?So despite the best of intentions, we might be curing the most deadly of diseases or we might be playing with fire. A fire which will not be easy to put out.
“I’d go so far as to say that all causes of death, perhaps with the exception of sudden fatal injuries, could be dramatically reduced if only we were modifying our genes. Essentially all medical problems could theoretically be solved by modifying our genes.” Human Politics and Biotechnology Science Blog