Making "Better" People: Germline Engineering and Designer Babies

1929 Words Jul 7th, 2008 8 Pages
"Many people love their [golden] retrievers and their sunny dispositions around children and adults. Could people be chosen in the same way? Would it be so terrible to allow parents to at least aim for a certain type, in the same way that great breeders . . . try to match a breed of dog to the needs of a family?"
--Prof. Gregory Pence, University of Alabama (1998)

Genetic Engineering has been hailed as one of the greatest scientific developments of the 21st century. The argument above is one of many, posed to ask human beings to think about whether or not genetic engineering is morally and ethically right. By modifying genes and DNA or by introducing new genes into an embryo, organisms are given new, often beneficial
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It is Germline engineering makes the idea of Designer Babies possible. Whether this practice is morally and ethically acceptable is a topic which is often debated.

In an article entitled “Designer People” by Sally Deneen, a microbiologist from Princeton University expressed his thoughts on what would happen if gene selection becomes a common part of the reproductive process. Lee M. Silver, says he can see a day centuries from now, where there are two separate species of human beings; there are the standard “naturals” and the elite class of special “gene-enriched” beings whose parents consciously picked out their genetic make up and whose parents before them did the exact same, and so on and so forth for generations. The two subspecies of humans would be as distantly related as humans and chimpanzees are today. This would be mainly due to the fact that natural human beings would have the regular 46 chromosomes that we do, while the enhanced beings would have about 48 chromosomes, in order for them to accommodate all their added characteristics.

In his book entitled Remaking Eden, Silver says that the process would start out innocently enough, scientists would figure out a way to fix damaged genes which cause birth defects like Cystic Fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease. After the general public becomes confident enough in the procedures, genes that cause cancer, diabetes and other big killers…

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