Saturday, 2 July 2016

DESIGNER BABIES: A Recipe for Disaster

Have you heard of genetic engineering? Many of you must have. It is a new field where biologists and geneticists are ‘engineering’ the human systems to create a flawless model. ‘Perfect babies’ are a step in this regard. Doomsday predictions are abound about the catastrophic effects of meddling with one of the most delicate, sophisticated and advanced systems known i.e. human body.

The most common accusation is that we are 'playing God' and that it will lead to a two-tier society - the genetically haves and the have-nots. “Designer” babies would most likely be better looking, smarter, etc. This could create “classes” between designer and non-designer babies. Parents will be ‘deciding’ their children’s’ looks, behaviour and other optimum characteristics. It would be utter disregard of one’s choice. Why should someone construct my life even before I am born? A baby cannot consent to having its body altered; therefore some do not believe it is right as parents do not “own” their children. There will be homogeneity on a mass scale. Parents may use this technology for superficial purposes; such as purposely seeking out a blonde haired, blue eyed baby for appearance concerns only.

Environmentalists have raised serious questions- Would genetic modification limit our genetic diversity? Could there be a danger that our gene pool diminishes and that as a population we become more susceptible to being wiped out by a hitherto unknown disease threat? Another problem are the shaky claims as no gene can be cannot completely evaluated. It is more than likely mistakes will be made.Genes often have more than one use. For example, a gene that controls intelligence could also control anger management. You could end up with a genius but a very angry child. We are not aware of long term the potential ramifications of altering genes. The human genome and our whole bodies are a maze of complicated biological signals, pathways and interrelationships. A positive change upstream could cause a negative effect downstream.

Some may claim that genetic engineering can help prevents genetic diseases such as Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and also reduces risk of inherited medical conditions such as obesity, anemia, diabetes, cancer. However, creating a “designer baby” is on a dubious moral and scientific platform. Since the technology is so new, it is unknown whether genetically modifying the babies will affect the gene pool. This could cause difficulties later on throughout the baby’s family tree.

Certain concerns like for genetic diseases can be taken care by consuming nutritious food and proper dietary supplements to reduce the risk of deformed babies .The lust for an engineered offspring is due to severe competition in all spheres of life. This research endeavour is based on a conception that ones’ bodies are a tool to achieve an end. It rejects autonomous agency of individuals and their sacrosanct rights. Humans have claimed to be the most intelligent species but this kind of research opens up the fears and insecurities they harbour in themselves. We are so blinded by the idealness that we are ready to interfere with the Creation to our own peril. Lastly, imperfections are beautiful.

Written by Rishya Dharmani
"Life is not a mystery, as they say, rather it is simplicity itself. Unlearn, fail and realize the true joy."

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