Designer babies could be just two years away, a new research paper has found.
Genetically-modified babies are “highly desirable” to help protect people from disease and could be created safely within two years. Gene editing now presents such low risks that it could be used for humans. Some people want to use this to remove genetic diseases. However, there are fears that this could be used to create “designer babies” that are taller, stronger, smarter, have a special eye color, or don’t go bald. In November 2018 Chinese scientist He Jiankui told the world he had created the world’s first genetically-modified babies, trying to make them resistant to HIV. He then quickly went to jail because his experiments were totally illegal.
There are four big reasons why scientists might want to change the DNA of humans — here they are from least to most questionable:
Basic Research: This one’s easy to understand. A scientist takes human cells and uses CRISPR to change the genetic code and better understand what our genes do. These experiments never happen on a living person, just on cells.
Treating Disease in Adults: Scientists want to treat diseases in humans. Last June, the National Institutes of Health approved the first-ever use of CRISPR (a gene-editing technology) as a cancer treatment. Scientists will take immune cells out of 18 cancer patients, edit the cells to make them better at fighting cancer, and then put the cells back into the patient to see what happens. (This test is mainly just to check the safety of this technique.)
Editing Unborn Babies: Okay, now we’re getting to the questionable stuff. It’s one thing to edit an adult’s blood cells. If anything goes wrong, the effects won’t be passed on to their babies. Changing unborn babies can create changes that parents can give to their children. Now we’re no longer talking about changing a single human. We’re talking about changing humanity.
4) Editing the human DNA for Enhancement: Of course, if scientists could one day edit viable embryos to eliminate diseases, they could also change DNA to make people stronger, smarter, taller, more beautiful and anything else you can think of. Stronger babies. Smarter babies. Babies born only with blonde hair and blue eyes…
What are the four ways sceintists want to do genetic editing?
Which do you think are good and which are bad? Explain.
If you could have any genetic enhancement what would it be?
Do you think humans should be genetically enhanced?
If you think editing our genes is wrong, what do you think about using robot technology to enhance people?