We have seen history turn what was once considered impossible into the possible over and over again. We are now entering a very controversial era in which genetic manipulation is seeming more and more likely with each passing moment. People are now wondering when people will be able to order designer babies, with the eye and hair color and other features being pre-determined. While the proponent’s genetic alterations really hate the term “designer babies,” the truth is that we are very close, at least in the way of science, to being able to dictate certain features before birth.
While we are a long way off from placing a drive-through order for babies, the idea of being able to control certain features on the baby is theoretically not that far out. Before moving forward to discuss the possibility, it is important to understand that there are a number of the variable at play here. We have the science, the moral issues, and the legal precedence. Just because we have the available science to do a particular thing does not mean that it will be met with social and moral acceptance. Additionally, physical capability does not answer the demand of legal responsibility. So, there is a lot that has to happen before we reach the point in which parent will be creating a checklist of features for their babies.
The editing of human embryos is a very volatile subject that can produce some highly contentious debate. The conversation is currently surrounding more grounded reasoning. While many of the opponents of the idea use the term designer babies, the vast majority of the proponents are not looking at controlling aesthetic features but increase the rate at which healthy babies are born. Basically, in the case where a deadly or debilitating disease seems imminent, the process of altering the genetic code that is facilitating the disease would be initiated. Theoretically speaking, this practice would reduce the rate of down syndrome births and other congenital birth defects.
During the most recent debates on the topic in 2017, all considerations for genetic editing were articulated using highly judicious verbiage, eliminating any idea that this type of procedure would be common or casual. One thing is for certain, and that is that there is no rush to push through to see this in the everyday world. It took from 2015 to 2017 to have a follow up on the initial debate. I believe that everyone involved is taking every necessary precaution to ensure the public that no one would be doing crazy experiments on human embryos.
Here is what you need to know. There have been significant technological advances in the area of reproductivity, allowing for the assurance of healthier births moving forward. What this means is that we already possess the technology to alter genetic expression prior to birth. The ability to influence epigenetic expression is gaining ground and the limitations are no long scientific capability but the determination of what is morally and legally acceptable. How much should man interfere with natural processes in human progression? There are plenty of pros and cons and as many people against it as there are for it.
This type of procedure can be immensely helpful for families in which the mother and the father both bare genes that increase the risk of defect. The removal of the family gene can significantly lower the risk of genetically influenced birth defects. This can also lead to being able to remove the gene from the family tree over time.
Genetically induced diseases are the result of gene mutation within a family and if the science plays out the mutation can be reversed over time. What this means that in the next 100 to 150 years, we should a drastic decline in the number of congenital birth defects as a scientist will be able to weed out mutated genes through a progressive process. There may even be a point in which the gene will be removed during one procedure.
There are already real-life cases in which family has had children who have no sign of the mutated gene that had wreaked havoc in their family for generations. This is obviously exciting, but still, there are some who are afraid because they are not sure how far some are willing to take this.