all want the same thing: a happy, healthy and beautiful child. They would also
like them to be loving, smart, funny, curious, independent (to a certain
extent), obedient, compassionate, polite, charismatic, trustworthy, generous,
honest and exemplary in every way.
In other words,
they want perfection.
If you want things done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself, but manipulating
DNA is a chemistry that scientists have shied away from in the past. First off,
it's dangerous. Imagine editing a human embryo to erase a potentially hazardous
mutation and later learning that you gave birth to a lizard. How would you
explain that to your family?
engineering of this caliber will ultimately bring out the worst in people—and
by people, I mean those who can afford to pay for embellished characteristics.
And what about those children whose parents cannot afford such lavish
renovations? Remember how mean kids were in elementary school? Multiply that by
human nature to be curious, and science is science.
In February, a
National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee endorsed
modifying embryos, but only to correct mutations that cause “a serious disease
or condition” and when no “reasonable alternatives” exist. It didn't take long
for researchers to climb aboard and engineer a few dozen fetuses.
said in the past gene editing shouldn’t be done, mostly because it couldn’t be
done safely,” said Richard Hynes, a cancer researcher at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology who co-led the committee. “That’s still true, but now
it looks like it’s going to be done safely soon,” he said, adding that the
research is “a big breakthrough.”
The notion of
giving birth to a 100 percent—guaranteed—able bodied, bright-eyed child is
unfathomable to many parents. And though scientists still need to tweak
clinical trials and jump through some legal loopholes, they do believe that
couples who are unable to give birth to healthy children will one day be able
to do so—for a price.
For now, the
idea of a pre-meditated gene pool is still up for debate, but if the FDA gives approval for this procedure, we could
potentially wipe out diseases such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis,
certain types of cancer or, with any luck, erase the early onset of Alzheimer’s.
With so many
life-threatening illnesses in the world today, the concept of elimination is
tempting, but what about supply and demand, and people with too much money?
and famous have a long history of getting what they want, and corporate
greed is part of American culture. It's only a matter of time before mutated
embryos are household items and, as intriguing as designer babies may seem, no
one wants one from Amazon Prime—except maybe Beyoncé.
Pregnancy is a
profound and frightening experience that expectant parents do not take lightly.
Though giving birth to a perfect child is dream-worthy, designing your own will
be an extravagant option that most cannot afford. Besides, creating babies is a
lot more fun without test tubes and doctors. Save those things for when you
really need them.