Designer Babies

In the following I would like to discuss and comment on the topic ‘Designer Babies’, so babies who were bred in an experiment tube and got genetically modified and about the problems and conflicts of a ‘superior humankind’.

First of all, I would like to introduce and explain the topic itself a little, so it is clear what it is about and what facts are already known. 

Nowadays, humans are now more knowledgeable about the world, such as how to cure diseases that wiped out populations in the past and making plants grow faster and stronger. Other things include how the world works and the science behind space. Each day, humanity advances it’s understanding of the world one step at a time. We discover we learn, we improve.
Humans are curious and our urge to keep going will never stop. We will continue and keep testing our limits that seems endless.

So one of our awesome discoveries is that we are able to manipulate ourselves, that we can clone and use these clones to cure the most dangerous diseases, which is called ‘genetic modification’.[1]  With that we are even able to genetically modify babies, originally to cure diseases, but why not also create your dream baby, with the deepest ocean blue eyes, the most beautiful brown hair and perfect looking face and body shape?

[1] Genetic modification, also known as genetic engineering or recombinant-DNA technology, was first applied in the 1970s. This technique allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another and also between non-related species. It is one of the methods used to introduce novel traits or characteristics into micro-organisms, plants, and animals. The products obtained from this technology are commonly called genetically modified organisms (GMOs).’’
Fact is, that:

,,(...)  with pure germline modification is that these types of treatments will produce a change that can be passed down to future generations and therefore any error, known or unknown, will also be passed down and will affect the offspring. New diseases may be introduced accidentally.’’ - Wikipedia

→ So the creation of new unknown diseases might be a consequence and is said to be the biggest ethical issue.

1. So should we create dream babies or ‘superhumans’ knowing that it might cause new diseases, which we might not be able to cure?

2. What if we reach our limit when facing these diseases?

3. And most important, what impact will these possible have on the life of genetically modified people, who are the ones who will have to bear with it?

,, Safety is a major concern when it comes to the gene editing and mitochondrial transfer. Since the effects of germline modification can be passed down to multiple generations (..).’’

,, On a larger scale, germline modification has the potential to impact the gene pool of the entire human race in a negative or positive way. Germline modification is considered a more ethically and morally acceptable treatment when a patient is a carrier for a harmful trait and is treated to improve the genotype and safety of the future generations. When the treatment is used for this purpose, it can fill the gaps that other technologies may not be able to accomplish.’' - Wikipedia

So the entire human race could be genetically changed in a good or bad way, but a lot of people worry about the safety since it can be a threat and dramatical health issue to
these humans and following generations. But it seems to be more acceptable when a genetic modification is used as a treatment.

4. Is the possibility of a change for humankind in a positive way, worth the cost of the consequences of a negative change?

5. Is genetic modification safe enough to be used, or is the chance of ending up with mutations when experimenting considerable as OK?

6. Is genetic modification acceptable, when it is used as a treatment and should only be used as such?

The Questions:

Question 1:
Should we create dream babies or ‘superhumans’ knowing that it might cause new diseases, which we might not be able to cure?

In my opinion it is a clear no! Science should be used to learn how things around us work, how we can improve our ways of living and how we can help or give nature back
what we once took without thinking about the consequences. We should use the new knowledge to care for the earth and the other species - instead of “playing Sims”.
I believe with creating dream babies we lose a part which makes life and humanity itself unique.

Question 2:
What if we reach our limit when facing these diseases?

→ Well, at least we would know our limit now, which is better than never. I honestly hope we will face our limits soon enough, because there are too many humans who only want to know more and more and keep on experimenting, becoming a part of history with their discoveries, but not paying attention to their surroundings and ethics.
But also when we reach the limit there are two ways of handling genetic modification, first way is that we do not create new kinds of dream babies but perfectionate and help the ones we already started with, or second we stop the process immediately and never create new genetic modified babies ever, which is probably the one I might prefer.

Question 3:
And most important, what impact will these (the diseases) possible have on the life of genetically modified people, who are the ones who will have to bear with it?

→ I am pretty sure that not being allowed to get children will be one consequence.
It probably is the most necessary but harsh one too. If the disease can be given to following generations, who would have to suffer as well, then maybe never having children is a good decision. But well here I am a youngster talking, who never had the urge of wanting children and while writing I notice how harsh and cold-hearted this all sounds. So maybe leaving the decision to the modified people would be only human, I guess they should know whether getting children or not is a good idea, since they know what life is like with the disease.
Of course, they need to be clear about all the consequences and have enough time to think and have like a few points of criticism to fulfill to be allowed and get help for the birth. Also, no one should be allowed to force them for one decision, neither a family member, a foreigner nor one partner of the two. I guess the way of handling it would be alike to the process of an abortion.

Question 4:
Is the possibility of a change for humankind in a positive way, worth the cost of the possible consequences of a negative change?

→  I honestly do not know. On one hand, a positive change could be higher intelligence which could help us to solve other problems, like climate change, maybe we would even be able to cure the new diseases that may develop. But a negative change could be that we won’t be able to cure any new kind of disease, that we may end up with a really weak immune system, so they expected lifespan will decrease instead of increasing. Maybe we will lose the ability to feel different emotions and maybe we will change our genes in such a dramatic way that it can’t work anymore and every person born is basically a ‘failure’ and dies a young age and we can’t stop it as we forgot what our original genes were.
To be honest, forgetting what we once knew in the past is not untypical, it already happened quite often, because in the past people burned the knowledge down or hid it where no one can find it, or just totally forgot about the existence of such a knowledge. I am worried the same could happen in a far, far future where everything is genetically modified.

Question 5:
Is genetic modification safe enough to be used, or is the chance of ending up with mutations
when experimenting considerable as OK?

→ I am no scientist. But if I learned one thing during this school year in biology and our topic genetics and genetic technology, then that it is really complicated. It is not like that is too difficult to understand, of course, the basics are all good and such but when we learned more about details I started to lose it. It is so much.
But another thing I noticed is that, even with our knowledge and that growing more and more, we will never be able to know the future and upcoming things. It is science and not future telling through a cup of leaves. Sure we can calculate possibilities and what might happen with a high or low chance. But at the very end, we will never really know with a full guarantee. Life is unpredictable and change is unpredictable. The movie ,,Gattaca’’ is a great example, as Vincent Freeman, despite his expected lifespan of 30.2 Years and a high chance of a heart failure and not above average intelligence, managed to fulfill his dream of flying into space. Because he had something which cannot be calculated through genetics - a strong will and a determined personality.
Our personality develops through our experiences in life and makes us who we really are, not our genes. Genes tell our potential, but our personality shows what we are really capable of.
The power of our personality and the unpredictable changes in life, those make us humans unique and the chance of experiencing life. Humans are curious and often love new and adventures things, so jumping into life without calculating it through and knowing what will happen beforehand is what makes it so interesting and marvelous. Mistakes and failures are an important thing in life, they are teaching and remind us to appreciate life and the good things.

I really want to know who would dare to make the decision and so take the responsibility of losing all this and maybe way more. I know for sure, that I hope that I will never be this person.

(I think I kind of missed the question nr.5, but I realized these things above, so I deny to delete it and write it new.)

Question 6:
Is genetic modification acceptable, when it is used as a treatment and should only be used as such?

→ For me, it is clearly a Yes! That’s what science should be used for, discovering, understanding and healing or improving standards, not trying to perfectionate humanity itself and surroundings. You want more corn? Learn through science what corn needs to perfectly grow and give what it needs to do so. Don’t change the corn itself, that’s cheating.
Ever cheated in a game? First, it is all fun and you feel so strong, but then it gets boring, there is no challenge anymore and the things you do often crash everything else, so in the end, you have chaos everywhere - so you start a new game without cheats.
Unfortunately, I never found a good ‘reset’ or ‘new game’ button in life, probably because life is not just some game.

Possible conflicts and problems of a ‘super humankind’:

If we would create these designer babies, with all their perfect traits and enormous skills, they would probably be superior to normal born people and become a ‘super humankind’.

So society would not only be split up into poor and rich, but also ‘superhuman’ and ‘not superhuman’, or as in the movie ,,Gattaca’’, ‘valid’ and ‘invalid’. Like already shown in the movie, there might happen to be a new kind of ‘racism’, called ‘genoism’. Since workplaces often want the best and most skilled people, it would be just logical to employ the genetically perfect ones. And I believe not even a law could handle the situation and would just be broken too many times. Maybe there will be a time where there will not be racism or genoism, but considering how we even nowadays still have to fight against racism, I think humanity would be extinct long ago until it would be even close to being free of racism or genoism.

A superior humankind would be potential to cause civil wars. Maybe ‘superhumans’ would defend themselves against jealous and embittered normal people, as they cannot achieve their dreams because of being not genetical perfect. Or normal people would defend themselves against ‘superhumans’ who want the imperfect humans extinct, as they are not perfect enough.

Last but not least, I would be really interested in other's opinions.
Maybe you have some interesting or additional information. 
Or maybe you just want to say your own opinion.
Well, whatever it is if you have something to say, then please just do so, I won't bite nor anybody else. I would also be happy to answer some possibly upcoming questions. :)


  • Author Portrait

    Good morning Luan… It is a very interesting topic you chose. Even there is not much to discuss in this comment because I totally agree with you in all points. The only thing that allows genetic modification is treatment. An example: I was born with a disability on my eyes. With my glasses I see between forty and fifty percent. I dealt with it and except that I am never allowed to drive a car it doesn’t affect my live very bad. BUT if there would be a chance for further generations to skip that problem, I would be happy for them. My biggest fear is what you mentioned on point six. I’ve heard from a woman who refused to abort her child, even she knew it would have some disabilities. Well… Her partner left her and the doctors gave her the feeling to be stupid because she didn’t wanted to let her child die. Just to make one thing clear, if someone know their child will have strong disabilities and no chance to a real life, it is there right to decide whether or not they want this child. But if a women decides that she can’t bring over her to make an abort no one in this world should force her. Well, this comment was longer as expected ^^7 but as I said at the beginning, it’s a very interesting and delicate topic…

  • Author Portrait

    Jetzt musste ich auch mal bei dir vorbeischauen. Ein sehr interessantes Thema über das man viel und lange nachdenken kann. Mir gefällt deine Position, der ganzen Thematik gegenüber, übrigens sehr, in vielen Punkten kann ich dir nur zustimmen. Die Wikipedia-Ausschnitte waren meinem Hirn zwar zu kompliziert, aber deine Sprache lies sich flüssig lesen ^^ Und entschdige mich, dass ich auf der falschen Sprache kommentiere, aber meine Englischkenntnisse sind nicht sonderlich überragend xD

  • Author Portrait

    Hi Luan, thanks for bringing up this topic! I feel touched by your deep caring and engaement. And thanks for the general permission to write our thoughts and opinion. So this what I think: There is one more point to consider: In trauma research there is more and more evidence that the surroundings of a person during pregnancy (=mother) and also the act of procreation influence the way a person is... especially emotional. I don't want to imagine, what this means for a genetical changed person. How will he or she cope with his or way of being produced? That's making super-people with super-trauma. Second point is that the genetic conditions of a person are not fixed but possibly change during life. Also there are some scientiests who believe that genes can be changed by thoughts (just read something from Dawson Church).

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