Post # 1
Okay, so I am obsessed with this show on NPR called intelligence squared u.s. and on the way home I listened to the recent podcast: Should We Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies?
They get 2 sets of debaters on each side. In the past they have done Does Science Refute God? (And I am not touching that here with a 10 ft. pole, but it was very interesting for those who are wondering…)
At the beginning of the debate, I definitely had my mind made up. But at the end I changed my mind.
What if, before your children were born, you could make sure they had the genes to be taller or smarter? Would that tempt you, or would you find it unnerving?
What if that genetic engineering would save a child from a rare disease?
Post # 3
Providing there were no downsides I see no partiular problem with it. This would especially be the case with health-related issues.
I probably wouldn’t make the baby taller, but smarter? Oh heck yes. If I was to have children, I’d be terribly disappointed if I had dull ones.
Post # 4
Are you saying if I could genetically engineer my babies to have super powers? Because the answer to that is definitely yes. If you’re talking designer babies (i.e. certain height, hair color, etc), that’s not as appealing. Fortunately, I’m never having kids.
Post # 5
@housebee: The side that argued for genetic manipulation was highly in favor of doing it for mothers that had mitochondrial issues they might pass down to their kid. They said mankind has an ethical duty to help the baby and the natural right to choose.
The side that argued against it said that, okay, we can test on lab rats and whatever and if they die, they die. But these are children we’re talking about, so it’s not ethically responsible to do so because there have been known side effects.
Post # 6
Since genetically engineering a baby is likely to be very expensive, this would almost instantly become a class issue, with risher couples opting to make their child healthier, smarter, whatever, and thus more competitive. This could seriously impact the cycle of poverty, making it much more difficult to rise above than it already is.
If you are pro-genetic engineering, are you also pro-subsidized engineering to make it accessible to all? Or is it an every-man-for-himself kind of thing?
Post # 7
@Baimee: There are downsides according to the scientists/philosophers against it. And there is evidence that altering one gene can just cause problems in one of the other 99 mutations your body carries.
The side arguing for it told a story about this chick who had 5 kids, 4 of them died from passed down issues from the mom, the 5th that lived did so with serious side effects.
The guys were like, well that mom has other options besides delivering her own babies, I don’t know why people are so attached to their own DNA… I was pretty surprised at that comment [he was referring to adoption or egg donation since these issues are passed down from the mother].
Post # 8
@deetroitwhat: haha, our government is testing food chemicals/products on your kids right now. Ethics don’t really seem to be a problem. What the real problem with this scenario is, the artificial birth/survival rate being disproportionate to the artificial death rate. At some point, the demands for resources will be far greater than the supply.
Post # 9
@crayfish: They lightly touched on this and brought up the class issue if we were to ban it here in the US. That these couples would just go abroad. But honestly either side didn’t really talk about making the baby prettier, both sides really focused on the mitochondrial issue.
I ended up thinking I would be for the engineering in the beginning, but at the end I was definitely against it. I would not be in favor of subsidizing costs for gene engineering in either scenario.
Post # 10
Have any of you seen the movie Gattaca? Obviously, it’s science fiction but it’s a cool take on the impact of having genetically engineered babies.
Post # 11
@housebee: Hmm yeah I don’t know what you’re talking about in terms of the food. I don’t have kids. And I’d like to think that parents have a say on what kids put in their mouth and buy from the grocery store.
Post # 12
As someone who makes GMOs as part of their living I’m for engineering out diseases, but not so much for adding things like intelligence or height just because we can. In situations where it’s like ‘oh you have an accidental stop codon that shortens your motor protein meaning that your muscles will literally tear themselves apart? let me do a point mutation so the you regain funcionality of the rest of that gene for you’. Something like that really shouldn’t have too many side effects besides preventing debilitating muscle disease. I’m all for that kind of engineering, but when it’s ‘I don’t like the dominant allele that my kid is going to express’ I’m not so much for it.
As far as ethical concerns go *shudder* I’m going to stick with my GMO fungi thank you.
Post # 13
As long as there were no downsides, sure. I’d have no problem with it.
Post # 14
I think it would only separate the most wealthy people from everyone else. I can see if there was a massive plague that knocked out most of human existence trying to be more sustainable in breeding of children, but otherwise it’s a ridiculously bad idea. Too many people on earth already have little or no healthcare as it is.
Post # 16
@somethingaquamarine: You beat me to it. The idea of this rubs me the wrong way.