Year 2045, Dawn of the Designer Babies

After watching the PBS Special, “Breaking the Code,” I was extremely intrigued by the idea of a disease free world and how it could be achieved, the dilemmas it would create, and the world it would create. Here is a story of the future….

The most controversial aspect of living in year 2045 is being a kid like me…. a child who’s parents chose to have them the natural way.

The majority of my classmates were all formed in test tubes. Doctors asking their mothers and fathers, “Do you want your child to have green eyes? Blue eyes? Curly or straight hair?” Alongside the genetic engineering of traits, doctors also eliminated all disease. On the other hand, there is me. I’m a child of the natural way. Not in a test tube, but the product of what my peers find a primitive mode of reproduction, and my body tells the story. At age 13 I was the only kid suffering from acne. I’m the only kid with seasonal allergies and asthma. I’m an outcast. A weakling.

It all started when groups like Celera began to discover the wonders of the human genome, the genetic blueprint for human life in the early 1980s. They wanted to help improve the quality of life by preventing gene expression in certain diseases. They began by developing tests and services that identified a person’s inherent risk for a disease and aiding in selection, alongside treatment, as options for monitoring disease. Scientists like, Venter discovered breakthrough technology that isolated genes from “junk” DNA via high-speed computing and the use of short fragments of DNA called expressed sequence tags.

Eventually, scientisits and medicine began to be so far advanced that it no longer attempted to prevent expression but it began to genetically engineer all aspects, before the baby was even born.

Moral concerns arose asking if scientists were taking it too far. Is it ok to alter the genes of a person or is that playing God? Or is it cruel to have a form of treatment yet deny it from indivuals? Soon, the later statement won and medical professionals and scientists began to cure disease drastically by altering genes and preventing expression.

Not only has the dawn of the designer babies affected medicine, but it has also reached the courts. Converatists arguing with Liberals against pro-selection. However, selection and genetic engineering has become so common in today’s society that kids like me, that are genetically weaker and are destined to live shorter lives, are outcasts.

The question arises is it morally correct to alter the genes of a baby? Or, if you have the technology, is it morally correct to create a weak, susceptible child?

 

Lindsey Rice

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~ by ricela1 on January 12, 2014.

3 Responses to “Year 2045, Dawn of the Designer Babies”

  1. I think this is an interesting question we are going to have to grapple with in the future, but some are already grappling with it now:

    The science of vaccination is truly an enhancement of an immune system. Though its not a genetic modification of human DNA, it uses genetics and immunology to train the white blood cells to be more effective and withstand disease they could have never fought before.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to modify the genetic code efficiently enough to be able to change eye color or hair curl, because many genes effect different traits simultaneously, there is no single gene for blue eyes. Also, we do not know the amount of gene expression that is controlled by environment and cellular factors completely out of the realm of simple DNA reading. What the NOVA special illustrates in a modern day interpretation is that genetics, gene expression, and eventual characteristics are much more complicated than simply translating a code and changing it with special technology. I think that calling the human genome a parts list for an airplane is an adequate metaphor if you consider the parts list as a very very minimalistic list, consisting of screws, fabric, sheet metal, etc.

    We know the very little about what all the code means and what influences, let alone how to modify it and what the ramifications of modification will be – but knowing something is better than knowing nothing.

  2. Having just watched Gattaca in class, I wasn’t too surprised or stirred by your story. But, at the very end, when you question the morality of allowing a weak child to be born, I was intrigued. My answer to your question is….as open to interpretation as your question: sometimes. It all depends, of course, on what types of genetic alterations you’re talking about. Are you preventing diseases and removing negative medical conditions or are you increasing intelligence and strength beyond a norm? Is this the removal of something negative or the addition of something positive?

    Gene therapy has always been a topic of hot debate because of its potential–the potential to reach beyond healing and go into creating. Who are we to decide who gets to be better than who? But who are we to also decide who gets to be worse than who?

  3. I think it’s important to address the question posed in your last sentence pertaining to the ethics of NOT altering mutated genes/breeding comparatively inferior strains of human beings. Although the theme of a “natural born” child in the age of test tube babies is abundant in our recent discussions/literature/media, it’s addressed mainly as taboo but not necessarily as unethical. While it’s strange (and admittedly extreme) to think of our current process of reproduction as unethical or morally wrong, we seriously need to consider what it would mean to deny someone a life of pristine health if we have the ability to it.

    Paige

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