The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?  (Read 1646 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« on: 27/05/2014 19:30:01 »
How genetics are used to screen embryo's for disease, could couples create designer babies, and should the government interfere?
Read a transcript of the interview by clicking here
or Listen to it now or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 27/05/2014 19:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline Atomic-S

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 935
  • Thanked: 19 times
    • View Profile
Re: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« Reply #1 on: 01/06/2014 06:54:10 »
From a strictly scientific perspective, it is possible to select embryos based on genetic findings, and in view of the existence already of genetically modified organisms, performing further manipulations on human embryos may well be possible. However, it is evident that society here gets into some serious ethical quicksand and contradictions.  One was brought up:  Should an embryo prone to deafness be eliminated? The one view is that deafness is a disability that should not be passed on; the other is that deafness is "diversity" and should be cultivated. Things get even stickier when we throw in  social statistics, such as the finding that various ethnic communities show markedly different average performances on standardized educational tests, at least in the United States. (I am unfamiliar with the situation in the UK).  The cause of this discrepancy is a matter of debate, and it is not completely clear that genetics play no role.  Is it ethically repugnant, ethically indifferent, or ethnically required to insert genes into an embryo that are, or may be suspected of being, associated with a high-achieving (however you would define that) social group, thereby altering the generic heritage of the fetus so as to be different from that of the mother and father?  Who is qualified to decide?  In practice, such questions in the U.S. end up being decided by nine justices on the Supreme Court, whose qualifications to make them are highly questionable.
 

Offline alancalverd

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4728
  • Thanked: 155 times
  • life is too short to drink instant coffee
    • View Profile
Re: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/2014 17:11:38 »
Women, in a civilised society, have always chosen the best available ticket in the genetic lottery for their offspring. We selectively breed dogs, horses and farm animals. What can possibly be wrong with eliminating or at least reducing the element of chance in humans?

The only people who could possibly object to optimised reproductive choice are arrogant, jealous, stupid, unhealthy and sexually undesirable men. Society should not be ruled by losers.
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12001
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« Reply #3 on: 16/06/2014 19:22:41 »
A new industrialized world problem? Don't we have enough already :) I sincerely doubt this will have a impact on the human genome ::))
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4130
  • Thanked: 249 times
    • View Profile
Re: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« Reply #4 on: 16/06/2014 22:15:34 »
The number of genetic changes which can be reliably and safely be made today is approximately zero. The attempt is only justified where the alternative is certain death from a genetic disease.

However, biologists are working on techniques which one day may provide a safe and reliable method of editing genetic information. In one sense, this is no different from surgery on a newborn infant to correct deformed feet or a cleft palate.

So what happens when it is possible for parents to safely make (say) 10 changes to their baby's DNA? Will a DNA scan highlight the 10 most dangerous mutations in the baby's genome, and they will choose to fix these, or will they choose to change eye colour, height and skin tone?

Health and cosmetic effects may not be that different - I think it is likely that by eliminating dangerous mutations, effects like retarded growth or premature aging will be reduced.

[Some of the dilemmas of genetic selection & modification have been touched on by screen fiction such as the movie GATTACA, or the TV series Deep Space Nine.]
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Creating designer babies a thing of the future?
« Reply #4 on: 16/06/2014 22:15:34 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums