Monday, November 8, 2010

Can We Return The Baby If It Doesn't Look Right?

In a world consumed with achievement, it’s no wonder that people have started to turn to genetic engineering to protect out different diseases linked to genetic disorders. Cystic Fibrosis, Down syndrome and Anemia are just some of the over 4 000 currently known genetic disorders, coming from any of the 30 000 genes that are present in the 23 chromosomes of a human being. All these advances are giving the human population greater long life and hope to those who suffer from serious illness attached to genetics. But these motions are also resulting in a new trend throughout the world: genetically engineering your baby. Sounds like fun, right? All of this is becoming a reality as genetic engineering transcends in what we’ve ever thought possible; it’s gone from fixing life and death errors to “fixing” the future. 

All of this is done through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where the embryo is “created” in a little test tube or Petri dish in a nice, sterilized lab. The little embryo, along with a few other of its “siblings” sit in ideal conditions until a cell can be gathered and screened for the eventual traits of the future child. Based on what the parents want, a suitable embryo is then selected and placed into the mother, where it develops like a normal embryo would. And YAY! You’ve got yourself your “dream child”.

I’m sure it sounds tempting. But one large problem is the future of children if genetically engineered children become widespread over natural children. And well, it has already begun to become popular around the world in the form of gender selection. Can you imagine being told you should be what your parents want you to be because they paid thousands of dollars for you? If genetically engineered children become popular, and they probably will, it seems that parenting will begin to lose the warmth and love that is supposed to go along with it, and become a competition of the best child, along with giving parents a mindset of “I paid a lot of money for you, so you better turn out the way I planned.”

Using IVF creates many embryos, from which only one is selected. The fertilization clinic is then responsible for the rest of the unused embryos. More often than not, they’re just abandoned as if they were unimportant. This brings up the debate of whether or not an embryo is considered “living” and has a right to remain so, even if the parents don’t want it.

This newfound industry has definitely gotten out of hand. Machine learning was supposed to be able to create perfect “humans” that would fit into society. Who needs to build robots when you can just build a baby? This certain future is going to take the depth of parenting and turn it into a competition that is going to homogenize society, along with throwing everything out of balance not to mention the embryos that are being thrown away like trash.




  1. Hey Mae! I like your blog! I really agree with some of your ideas. I definitely think that 'Designer babies' will be an issue in the future, not only because the future of children if genetically engineered children become widespread over natural children, like you said, but also socially and through the lives of the child. The child might get discriminated against and stereotypes would used much more often then society today. Also, the fact that this is affecting the amount of love and parentally warmth that is suppose to go with the pregnancy of the mother, it does not give the child any rights or choices. As catholics, we believe that the embryo has just as many rights as a regular human would. Lets say that the embryos parents were really passionate about sports, and decided to give their child that gene. But what if they don't what to be that way? Are we taking all of those rights away from the child even before they are born? I believe so. It is not fair nor is it right, but it may prevent many children from being born with medical problems.

  2. Mae, nice blog!“I paid a lot of money for you, so you better turn out the way I planned.” I really like that sentence the best in your blog. I do agree that the newfound industry has gone out of hand because now parents do get to choose their sex of their baby and cosmetic changes as well. This is way too much over the line. To prevent a baby from having cancer or a disease is okay, but to change a baby from who he or she wants to be is wrong and unfair. By creating more designer babies, our world will be loosing a lot of diversity. Imagine only having tall blue-eyed friends? That would be pretty funny too haha, well I really enjoyed reading your blog! Nice work

  3. I do agree that it may have gotten slightly out of hand when parents are trying to create their "dream child." Choosing your child's genes for cosmetic reasons is unfair. You are forcing your child to become something that they probably aren't. By having a child naturally, they have the freedom to be who they want to be. I think choosing genes for cosmetic reasons will probably result in many social and ethical implications that would not arise had there not been designer babies. This would create many necessary conflicts and it would make the world very different when everyone had their genes chosen. Paying a lot of money to have a "dream child" is not right because parents should love their child for who they are as they are the ones who chose to have a child. Choosing genes for medical reasons is somewhat necessary because some children can die from certain genetic disorders. I do not feel that designer babies are right, but it does prevent many children from having to live their lives with a illness.

  4. Good job, Mae. Your blog was very entertaining, especially since it's such a serious topic, it was refreshing. I really like how you chose which side you were on, yet you still talked about the procedure and everything else like you were neutral about the subject. I agree how some parents are taking the situation too far and how it can cause some damage in the future. It's a shame how parents want to 'design' their child instead of just being happy with the child they got. But on the other hand, it's good that they can remove any heredity diseases. At least some people are using it for the right reasons.

  5. I agree with you that the concept designer babies will bring alot of problems. Not only health problems to do unsucessful genetic mutations, but also social problems. As you explained, since parents will be begining to pay alot for their perfect child, they will begin to put pressure on their child to be perfect, because that is what they were designed to be. Parents will also have to live with the horibble fact that they have abandoned thousands of possible children, in order to find the perfect child. The choosing of embryos is alot like abortion because, the parents have to choose whether they want to keep the future child or not. In conclusion, I agree with you on the fact that the social problems of designer babies are just as equal to the possible health problems.

  6. Some of the information is incorrect on this blog post. Designer babies are genetically engineered. You've suggested that the embryo is genetically selected to be fertilized - this is something completely different. Designer babies are produced through gene editing using enzymes and swapping of fragments of DNA.
    Selecting embryos for fertilization is nothing immoral as the embryo itself is not being altered - this is used to fertilize eggs without inheritable genetic conditions (this is already being done) and is the basis of Gene therapy. 250 genetic conditions can be prevented due to this, including Alzheimer's, Cystic fibrosis and even Downs Syndrome.

    Great blog though :)