A huge scientific and moral debate has emerged in UK regarding creating “Designer babies”. Designer babies are coming into highlight after the influential group of scientist has opened the door of accepting the Perfection of the genes of unborn babies. Engineering of DNA is done to influence positive characteristics on to their child.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has given green light to Genome Editing. Genome editing comprises of altering DNA in an embryo in which the genetic code is cut out and replaced. After the alteration, the embryo is implanted in the womb.
This gives the parents option to genetically choose what they do and do not want their child to have. They can use this feature to enhance the looks and intelligence level of their babies. They can also use this to manipulate their child’s height or hair color.
The main purpose of the customization of DNA is done to curegenetic illnesses or reduce probabilities of cancers and dementia to the child. But the experts are not eliminating its cosmetic usage. They stated that they would still allow the parents to make cosmetic changes like making tweaks to increase height or changing eye or hair color as it might make a child more successful.
The scientists are only allowed to edit the human embryos for 14 days. If they exceed the given day limit, they must destroy the embryo. In addition, it is illegal to implant the embryos into a womb, which has exceeded those 14 days in the lab.
But according to Nuffield Council it would be legal if the measure of safety were met of safeguarding the embryo. The council’s report suggests that the gene correcting technique should only be accepted if the person’s upcoming future is secure and does not create any discrimination or partition within the society.
The Nuffield Councilhas states that this procedure should be strictly regulated by Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and should only be approved after monitoring each case very closely for their long-term side effects.
“There is potential for heritable genome editing interventions to be used at some point in the future in assisted human reproduction, as a means for people to secure certain characteristics in their children,” says the Professor Karen Yeung, chair of the working party on genome editing and human reproduction.
He adds, “Initially, this might involve preventing the inheritance of a specific genetic disorder. However, if the technology develops it has potential to become an alternative strategy available to parents for achieving a wider range of goals.”
Debate has emerged due to the ethical questions raised by advances of science and technology.
But The Times reports otherwise, saying, “The advances in gene editing mean that it is possible to contemplate a time when embryos can be modified so that genetic diseases, or even genetic predispositions to disease, are eliminated.”
Similarly, German newspaper Deutsche Welle expresses, “Warn that permitting the practice could lead to the creation of super humans who have an unfair genetic advantage over others.”
There was detection of ‘scrambling’ of the genetic code, when the genetic codes were deleted and replaced by the Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton. This process of manipulation of DNA can cause unanticipated damage was shown by a study. Some cases have proven this procedure is unsafe and problematic.
This topic has been debated as this procedure may worsen inequality and social division in society.