Should designer babies be an option on our future?
The controversial topic of designer babies has been an ongoing discussion since it was brought to the eyes of the public in the early 90’s (Aznar J. , 2008, http://www.observatoriobioetica.com) There are advantages of preventing disease, infection and disability, but will the temptation of being able to modify children’s genomes lead to a master race of blue eyes and blonde hair? In this report, the benefits and drawbacks of the issue of designer babies is discussed, along with the opposing viewpoints regarding genetic enhancement. The decision over the possibility of manipulating a child’s genetic makeup is incredibly important as it will decide the fate of many generations yet to come.
How can someone verify that genetically enhancing their children is a good idea?
Each year, there is a staggering number of birth defects that sometimes result in death, which could be prevented with the help of genetic enhancement. Medical News of the World, the most popular medical news website on across the globe, (http://www.news-medical.net/) estimates that approximately 8.8 million children are born every year with serious birth defects. This report goes on to tell the reader that a startling 3.3 million of these children die before the age of 5 (http://www.news-medical.net, 2006, as cited in marchofdimes.com). A bioethicist would argue that these deaths that occur year by year could be prevented with the use of genetic enhancement - which would locate the DNA sequence of any life-hindering defect and rid of it to ‘design’ a healthy child (Agar, 2006, www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/agar.html) Professor Ronald M. Green, Professor of Bioethics at Dartmouth College states in his book, ‘Babies by Design’ (Green, R. M, 2007, Babies By Design, Harper Collins Publishers) that the possibility of removing disease from the human race will render any argument useless - he then proceeds to ask; “what if it was your child?” (Green, R. M, 2007, p. 9) Would you do anything you could, even conceding to genetic manipulation, to prevent an impending cancer, haemophilia, diabetes, anemia or organ failure? The possibility for a cancer free world would be the universe of choice. But, what he has not discussed throughout this book, is the potential addition to overpopulation and immortality. The world is already overpopulated, so what would happen if there was an extra eight million people in the world to provide for? How much quicker would the world run out of limited resources such as oil? But again, would the amount of pain and grief caused by a life-hindering disease or death of a child dissipating be worth it? Professor Ronald M. Green goes on to discuss the practicality it would bring - especially to the poor. People could be more self sufficient and improve their productivity if they did not become lethargic from working, and could be genetically enhanced to not feel hungry so often so that money could be saved and accumulated.(Green, R.M, 2007, p. 110) But there is a flaw in this argument, how would the poor afford this in the first place? Surely these procedures would costs tens of thousand of dollars, and only a zygote genome can be manipulated - not a fully grown adults. The parents wouldn’t know whether their child would grow up to be poor or not, so how would they know whether to enhance their child?
Transhumanitarians desire the ability to transform the human condition by further developing techniques for human enhancement. Transhumanitarians live by the saying “Your mind is a software. Programme it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it. Extinction is approaching. Fight it.” (2003, http://humanityplus.org) They have the wish to use technology to its full potential and show the capabilities of the human race. There is a wish to prevent disease, poverty, disability and malnutrition for the benefit of mankind. Human nature will forever be a...
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