Cloning and genetic engineering or manipulation may have been in the realms of science fiction in the past. Today, they are closer to reality and in some cases have already become reality. Animal cloning is already in experimental phases. Genetic engineering has happened in foods and also animals. Experimentation with genetic engineering in humans are at a very advance stage, although the common people don’t get to know about the progress since most facts are classified or inaccessible to the press.
Designer babies are an outcome of genetic engineering. Instead of the natural cycle of fetal development in the womb of a mother, babies would be grown in artificial environments and substantial genetic modification would go into the development process. Even if designer babies are grown naturally in the womb of the mother, genetic engineering can play a role at the conception stage or thereafter in myriad ways. In-vitro fertilization and test tube baby are concepts that have been proven to be safe. They have changed the world, mostly for the better. Can designer babies do the same?
Designer Babies: Explained!
Before we delve into the designer babies pros and cons, it is necessary to learn what it actually is or what it entails. Designer babies would have a specific genetic composition or makeup. It would not be left to chance. Whatever can be manipulated genetically will be done. It is the uniqueness, personalization or the ability to change different features of a newborn that has lead to the naming of designer babies as such.
Designer babies may or may not have specific genes, as desired and determined during conception, fetal development and up to birthing. It is possible to alter many traits in babies with the help of genetic engineering or manipulation. It is possible to change the gender, physical appearance, level of intelligence or cognitive skills, personality and health. Genetic engineering is championed with the primary cause of being able to eradicating diseases. Indeed, genetic engineering can help in curing cancer, incurable diseases caused by viruses and other microorganisms, terminal diseases that don’t get cured in most people and lifestyle diseases that are not necessarily fatal but lead to lifelong suffering. From diabetes to psychological conditions, genetic engineering can make the changes at the level of genes and chromosomes which will ensure that babies are healthy, strong and free of diseases.
Designer babies may be completely immune to all known diseases. Depending on the needs, one may choose to have designer babies at different stages of pregnancy or development of the embryo if there is a risk of certain genetic disorders or heredity diseases. Cells can be studied to proactively assess defects and accordingly some genetic engineering can remedy the problems. It is also possible to have designer babies born to three or more parents by using genes of all the parents.
List of Pros of Designer Babies
1. Designer babies can be perfectly healthy.
They may not need vaccines. They may not suffer from any childbirth related illnesses. They may not have any kind of deformity. They will not suffer from hereditary diseases. They will not be impacted by any frailty or illness in the mother during conception and any disease that either or both parents were suffering from while having the child. All medical conditions that have even the tiniest of genetic connection will be prevented.
2. Designer babies can be stronger and cleverer than ordinary babies.
Designer babies can be more intelligent, have better cognitive skills and will be able to fare better in almost all aspects of life. From studying to playing, personality to physical strength, skills in music or language and everything that ordinary human beings learn over a lifetime would become easier for designer babies to master.
3. Designer babies help further the cause of science.
It will help humans become better creators. Creating life form is the ultimate form of creation. Although science is yet to explain the origin of the universe but genetic engineering succeeded at making perfect genetic babies will get us closer to understand how life came into being.
4. Designer babies may have substantially longer lifespan.
They may live a more prosperous and healthier life and all such developments may lead to a better world.
5. Designer babies can maintain a healthy gender ratio, the balance of males and females.
Designer babies can have new, evolved and diverse genes. The practice will also lead to unprecedented scientific evolution.
List of Cons of Designer Babies
1. Designer babies will not be a success story all the time.
There could be termination of embryos. The gene pool in consideration may get damaged during genetic manipulation. In any case, genes don’t have singular purposes and we have not yet perfected our understanding of how genes function. If we had that level of acumen, then we could have solved cancer and other incurable diseases already.
2. Designer babies can cause a rift in the societal balance.
Although we don’t have a perfect society, the rich and privileged capable of having expensive designer babies will have stronger, more intelligent and powerful heirs. This will lead to an even more imperfect society.
3. Designer babies would be manufactured so there would be no individuality.
The babies don’t get to say or choose anything and there is no way of knowing how nature would respond to such level of manipulation.