Rapid progress in genetics is making "designer babies" more likely and society needs to be prepared, leading scientists have told the BBC.
Since the 1990s, the prospect of futuristic technologies such as human cloning or selecting for superhuman traits have stoked public fears about "designer babies."
Back then, most of these techniques were purely speculative, but now several methods for genetic selection are either already possible or will soon become so.
Imagine a near future where the process of having a child is not left up to the vagaries of Mendelian genetics. After all, we strive to give our children the best possible education, clothing, food, and upbringing… why not have them start with the best possible genetic code as well?
Long before Watson and Crick famously uncovered the structure of DNA in 1953, people envisioned with both horror and hope a day when babies could be custom designed -- free of inherited disease, yet equipped with superior genes for good looks, intelligence, athleticism, and more. Now the beginnings of the day of designer babies have finally come.
Nearly 40 years since the first ‘test-tube baby’, how close are we to editing out all of our genetic imperfections – and should we even try to do so?
A designer baby is a baby genetically engineered in vitro for specially selected traits, which can vary from lowered disease-risk to gender selection. Before the advent of genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization (IVF), designer babies were primarily a science fiction concept. However, the rapid advancement of technology before and after the turn of the twenty-first century makes designer babies an increasingly real possibility.
Imagine being able to choose your baby’s eye color, height, or nose shape. Maybe you want a child with a 210 IQ.
Well, we just might have the technology to do it — a “potentially revolutionary tool for editing DNA,” as Carl Zimmer writes in Quanta magazine.
27% Say Yes and 73% Say No.
One CRISPR skeptic sheds light on what human gene editing could mean for the future.
Even today, parents are selecting for the traits they want in their offspring. But how far should the genetic tailoring go?
Playing God via genetically changing human creation is made possible today by the marrying together of two powerful technologies. The first is now an old technique, in vitro fertilization (IVF), which was mastered by Nobel Laureate Robert Edwards and his colleague Patrick Steptoe four decades ago. The second is a new, cutting-edge genetic technology called Crispr-Cas9 that makes it remarkably simple to directly tinker with the human genome (the DNA sequence) of an early embryo.
Throughout history any advancement seen as altering "the natural way of things" has met with fear and resistance. Is the advent of "designer babies" just what's next in this tradition, or is there legitimate cause for concern over this and related developments?