Molecular Genetics

rapidparentBiotechnology

Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 11 months ago)

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Designer Babies:
An Ethical Issue


I
n vitro fertilization is ethical to a certain extent of its uses. There is an ethical difference
between using genetic technologies to prevent disease and using them to enhance human capacities.
The ramifications on the infrastructure of our society and
species as a whole are endless if genetic
modifications on babies were used worldwide.

Genet
ic engineering
that

provide
s

‘therapy’, def
ined by
replacing

a gene linked with a function that falls below a level considered normal for humans, is ethically
plau
sible to aid as an evolutionary method.
In this case, g
enes are being artificially selected that will
contribute to an increase in the reproductive success of the individual by decreasing their mortality rate.
Modifications such as these
pose the threat
of an increasing population. Despite the stress on limited
resources, the implications of therapy give every human the right to life and health which abides by
ethical considerations. In the case of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, several embryos are
carried out
by in vitro fertilization, and those screened showing genetic variants not associated with the disease, will
be introduced to the womb. This method introduces further ethical implications because disease is
avoided through the disposal of othe
r embryos. If an advantage such as this is provided at the disposal
of expectant mothers, it should be utilized. The purpose of medical research from the beginning of time
has been to prevent disease. If in vitro fertilization and genetic modification c
an prevent un
-
advantageous genetic defects it should be incorporated into medical regime. Through this practice,
evolutionary methods are aided by slowly chan
ging the allele frequency to

benefit

humankind
,
decreasing
disease
s

st
emming from harmful mutatio
ns.


In vitro fertilization and designer babies become a whole new ethical issue when implications
are used for enhancement rather than therapy, enhancement being defined by genetic engineering for
the distinct aim of producing an individual who, in some

areas, functions beyond a level considered
average for human beings. Rather than aiding in evolution, this process completely disrupts natural
selection, and minimizes genetic diversity. Inferior traits are considered to be a matter of opinion.
However
, society has a set standard of what appears to be a successful human being portrayed by the
media. Genes selected to fit a successful
human being
greatly decrease the genetic diversity of the
population, a huge disadvantage when taken into consideration
how important genetic diversity is to a
species. Decreasing allele frequencies
increase the vulnerability of humans to a mass extinction,
because fewer individuals will have the possibility for coding against different strains of disease. Even
further, d
esigner babies will prevent natural mutations from occurring, mutations that can be benefici
al
to the evolution of humans. It is true that parents, through nurture, ‘design’ their children
, an argument
advocating selective

traits as another method of desi
gn. The parallel between upbringing and genetic
enhancement do not cause the same effect on society. Many social
divides

exist simply because some
individuals are genetically better endowed than others, and are doing jobs with better compe
nsation.
Natur
al abilities

provide advantages that are needed to ensure the bounda
ries between different classes
(
be they social,
economical
, or personal
)
, will
not
blur as time progresses
. Natural abilities bound in
DNA cannot arise as a result of nurture. As these t
echniques become widely available, enhanced genes
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will become more ubiquitous and genetic gaps will close as a result, changing the infrastructure of
society.

All scientific discoveries can be exploited and abused for purposes other than medical
treatment,

especially in the area of genetic modification. Th
e idea of modifying embryos should
continue to be researched for the specific use of gene treatment and therapy.

Using gene treat
ment to
cure

biological impairment and conduced disease by impeding biolog
ical functions will produce a
positive outcome.
In contrast, t
he benefit of providing enhancements is far outweighed by the negative
societal impacts involved.

In vitro technologies are currently being used today for cases where the
possibility of being
predisposed to disease is high. As it is already being implemented, it is only a small
step before medical clinics will begin to offer the possibility, considering the technology is possible,
especially with the mapping of the human genome. Societal impl
ications are being further researched
to assess the plausibility of opening these clinics. As soon
as it is offered
, the competition to cre
ate the
perfect child will have begun
.