Sunday, January 3, 2010

Is Perfection A Reality?

Question: "Designer babies" is the term being used by the media to describe the future of modifying or selecting our children's genes for desirable characteristics (medical and cosmetic). Are things getting out of hand with our research into genetic processes? In the blog investigate social and ethical implications of this research and technologies that have been developed from it.

Designer babies are babies whose genetic makeup has been artifically selected by genetic engineering using InVitro Fertilization (IVF) to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. It is the usage of genetic screening that creates babies to meet certain criteria. It is very beneficial for parents to have "the perfect baby." They get an opportunity to choose certain traits and/or sex of the unborn baby. Genetic screening can be used to alter anything from gender to certain factors such as disease, appearance, personality, and IQ (measure of intelligence). It has given us the ability to eliminate genes that are associated with disease, genetic defects, and terminal illness. Even though parents can design the type of baby that they want using genetic screening, designer babies can affect the society in a negative way as well. In this blog, I am going to talk about the positive and negative consequences of designer babies.

Source: http://www.australasianbioethics.org/Images/cloning-8.JPG

Here is a news article on Designer Babies: Creating the perfect child:

http://www.cnn.com/20080TECH/science/10/30/designer.babies/index.html

There is also a video on designer babies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN9ep4B9Hw0

Advanced Reproductive Technologies

The two technologies that have been developed on designer babies are: InVitro Fertilization (IVF) and Pre-implanation Genetics Diagnosis (PGD).

The InVitro Fertilization (IVF) is used to fertilize eggs with sperms in test-tubes outside the mother's body in a laboratory. This allows parents and doctors to reduce the chance that a child will be born with a genetic disorder. Thus, the resulting embryo goes back into the mother's uterus.

Source: http://www.defeatinfertility.com/wp-content/themes/NicheProfitPressV2/images/ivf-diagram.gif

This diagram shows the process of InVitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF can be used to choose the sex of the embryo. Doctors do this by sorting out a sample of the father's sperm and only fertilize the egg with either 'male' sperm or 'female' sperm or by using Pre-implanation Genetics Diagnosis (PGD).

The Pre-implanation Genetics Diagnosis (PGD) is used to screen embryos conceived through IVF and choose which ones will or will not be implanted.

Source: http://www.arhp.org/uploadImages/cloning_7.jpg

This diagram shows the process of Pre-implanation Genetic Diagnosis.

Advantages of Designer Babies

  • It reduces the baby's chances of being born with genes of certain hereditary disorders or birth defects.
  • It gives parents an opportunity to choose certain traits and sex of their unborn baby.
  • It is possible to create the perfect baby because scientists can give its specific characteristics such as physical ability, intelligence, and appearance if its genes are altered.

Source: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Science/pix/2007/08/01/embryoblue_2.jpg

Disadvantages of Designer Babies

  • It is not according to God's plan of creating human beings in his own image.
  • If there is an environmental factor occuring on designer babies, there will be a higher possibility of extinction.
  • With designer babies, the society will be highly competitive.
  • As many people will be going for high-paying jobs, there won't be enough people for low-paying jobs (construction workers, garbage collectors, janitors, etc.)
  • There can be an increase of unreasonable fear or hatred towards foreigners or anyone who appears different.
  • There is fear that parents and doctors will be able to choose certain genes and/or traits for babies using a genetic technology.
  • This is very expensive so only wealthy families can afford it.

Conclusion

Using InVitro Fertilization (IVF), babies' genetic makeup can be selected by genetic engineering to change its certain genes or characteristics. This gives parents an opportunity to create "the perfect baby".

Advanced reproductive technologies are used for three main reasons:

  • To help infertile couples have children.
  • To screen embryos for genetic disorders and select healthy ones.
  • To determine the sex of the baby. This is done to ensure that there is no genetic disorders. Males can have a genetic disorder such as Muscular Dystrophy so couples can choose to have a female child and thus have a healthy baby.

With genetic screening, genes relating to disease, genetic defects, and terminal illness can be eliminated. There are many people in the world who have genes of certain hereditary disorders (Huntington's chorea, Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy). The advantages of designer babies include reducing the chance of the baby having genes for certain hereditary disorders and creating the perfect baby based on its appearance, skills, and intelligence. Parents can also choose the sex of the unborn baby. On the other hand, one of its disadvantages are that it is not according to God's plan. In the bible, we are told "God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) It is God who gave us life and children are a gift from him so parents cannot make any perferences. From what I have learned from Unit 2 SBI 3U1, biodiversity is important to ensure survival. So if we completely create designer babies and an enivronmental factors occurs, there will be a higher possibility of extinction but if there are different people, it will not affect the entire population so the resistant ones will reproduce and pass the genes and create a greater biodiversity. With designer babies, the society will be highly competitive. Therefore, there wouldn't be enough people for low-paying jobs (construction workers, garbage collectors, janitors, etc.). Genetic engineering is a very expensive process so only wealthy families can afford it. There is also fear that parents and doctors will be able to choose certain genes and/or traits using a genetic technology. Therefore, I recommend that genetic engineering should not be used as creating "the perfect baby" based on all of these disadvantages.

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4 comments:

  1. Overall, i like this blog!! It's full of information, pictures and relation to the bible. The title really attracted me to read on because it's true, the world really does try to reach perfection and beauty but what they only do is make matters worse. Keep up the good word and keep blogging!

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  2. John, great blog. I like the fact that you highlighted many facts about how although designer babies may benefit the parents, and in time the child, it may end up alienating itself from society due to its genetic modification. I also, like how you strenghtened your position about designer babies with quotes from the bible. Good job !

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