What are designer babies?
Designer babies are genetically engineered babies. The genetic makeup of these babies has been selected or edited according to the need to include or exclude some traits from the individual. Genetic engineering allows editing the genome sequence of the embryo, which is called gene editing. The chromosomes are cut and restored with nonhomologous chromosomes using restriction enzymes.
Genetic engineering is usually done to eliminate the risk or possibility of a child inheriting genetic disorders that would cripple his or her life. The diagnosis of faulty genetic material is done and corrected before implantation.
The creation of designer babies might sound far-fetched and futuristic but it is not. A Chinese scientist has already produced genetically engineered, or as we call it designer babies (twins) in 2008. This technology opens up a whole new dimension for us in the field of human health and technology.
Although this technology has the potential to solve many health problems and revolutionize the way treatments are done right now, its use is widely debated. When genetic materials are edited, humans are defying natural law. Disruption of any natural process will cause adversities in the world and adversity from this particular technology might even push the world towards extinction.
What comes under medical genetic engineering?
Medical genetic engineering means editing the genomic sequence of an embryo before implantation to select or edit any genomic sequence that has the potential to harm the normal functioning of the body. Genetic disorders like down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, hemophilia, etc can be detected and edited.
The onset of such a genetic disorder hampers the well-being of the individual and the society and there aren’t many other methodologies that allow its treatment. Therefore medical genetic engineering is editing genetic materials to bring about changes that would adversely affect the overall physiology of the body. It is important for survival.
What comes under cosmetic genetic engineering?
Cosmetic treatment can synonymously be called aesthetic enhancement treatment. Cosmetic genetic engineering is thus a brand of genetic engineering that deals with the editing of genetic material before implantation to bring about desired or required cosmetic changes in the embryo which will later enhance their appearance.
Cosmetic enhancements are not required medical procedures and not doing them will not harm the body’s harmony. Changes made in genes to change the color of a baby’s eyes, the shape of their nose, height, weight, and other factors that add to external appliance count as cosmetic genetic engineering.
Should cosmetic genetic engineering be allowed?
Genetic editing is one of the most exciting technologies that has been developed. This technology has also invited a huge bioethical storm. The community is divided on whether this technology should be used in humans or not and if yes, how?
This same ethical confusion poses us with the question of our topic, “should genetic engineering be allowed to enhance cosmic features or should it be purely medical?” And below are a few points supporting both sides.
Cosmetic genetic engineering has a huge possibility of adversity. Allowing genetic engineering to enhance human traits and aesthetics will cause a precedented but unmanageable catastrophe. Some of the major reasons why cosmetic enhancement through genetic engineering should not be allowed are:
Increased Societal Gap – It is no wonder that enhancing genetic traits will exacerbate the already existing divisions in society. The rich people will have more access to perform this enhancement and thus have a better quality of life. They will be able to make their clan stronger, healthier, and smarter. This will push their division into a division where they vary physiologically and misbalance society.
Dehumanize society – The use of genetic engineering to change the way nature had decided to make a certain person will dehumanize society as a whole. Producing offsprings will be more of a competition of who has the best selection rather than a warm process of love. There will be fewer emotions and more logical approaches which might shake the stand that this society is standing on.
Extremely expensive – The other reason why allowing cosmetic genetic therapy might be a bad idea is because of its huge price tag. The money people spend on such therapies to just enhance their features will enable them to use these resources elsewhere. Redirecting such resources might help to uplift their quality of life and shift towards an attitude that lowers the gaps in the society based on looks.
Mishap – We have just started to learn about the technology that allows us to edit the genomes and it is no surprise that we know very little about it. While editing the genetics to enhance cosmetic features, we might adversely affect the patient. There might be mishaps or unprecedented outcomes.
Decreased diversity – Most humans have a pre-deposited idea about what they find attractive. Allowing cosmetic genetic engineering will allow them to select such characters. This will make the genetic pool of individuals limited to only a set of attributes. Personal identity will be lost along with a drastic decrease in genetic diversity.
Cosmetic genetic engineering does not only have negative sides, it does have strong positive sides to it such as:
A better life – Cosmetic genetic engineering will allow parents to select the best features in terms of body looks and intelligence. This will allow the children to have a better grasp of things, fewer illnesses, and thus a better life.
Better mental health – Having features that you are admired for will cause the individual to feel good about themselves. They will have an overall positive outlook on life and thus have fewer mental health problems. This will in turn allow them to live up to their full potential and the population will progressively move towards a happier community as a whole.
Gain knowledge – Frequent using genetic engineering for whatever purpose will add to the bigger picture by opening new doors of possibility. The only way to develop this technology is by frequently using it and with a huge fraction of people wanting to change how they look, allowing cosmetic genetic engineering will develop this technology further.
Genetic technology, especially cosmetic genetic engineering, has a divided the world into for and against it. The development of every technology had its downside and uncertainty with it but with every advancement, we’ve only gained more control to radically change things.
Allowing cosmetic therapy will therefore allow more opportunities for this technology to develop. Therefore cosmetic genetic engineering should be allowed but it should be controlled in a way that allows exercising the technology but not changes the societal construct at once.