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Designer future: Human intervention is crossing the line of creation

By Brandon Diep, Apr. 12, 2022

What would you change about yourself? Would you change your eye color, hair type, height or the sound of your voice? Maybe you want to become smarter? Funnier? Imagine that you could. With human genetic engineering, all the physical and mental traits you desire could become a reality. The only question is: is it morally right?

I believe gene editing or engineering should only be used to cure illnesses and diseases. Designer babies, the ability to change the superficial features of a child, are unethical and should not be conducted. Humans should not change the physical and mental characteristics of their children, but love them as they are.

Human genetic engineering is already possible, and it will soon change the way we think of childbirth and human health. Using a technology called CRISPR, also known as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindrome Repeats, which is defined by Live Science as, “a powerful tool for editing genomes, meaning it allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function,” humans will then have the ability to aesthetically edit the genetic characteristics of an unborn child.

This technology holds unimaginable possibilities. As reported by Tides, a social charity foundation, a person can give a fertility clinic a checklist of characteristics and features they want for their child, scientists then use CRISPR to edit the genes of an embryo accordingly, implant the embryo into the mother for pregnancy and finally, the designer baby is born.

Gene editing was developed for the eradication of diseases and curing of cancer, but it can also be used for creating the child of your dreams. The science is unbelievable and is already being used in controversial ways.

On Nov. 25, 2018, the impossible became possible. A biophysics researcher from China, He Jiankui, shocked the world with the first gene-edited humans. He revealed that he had altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments with one resulting pregnancy. He was trying to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist future infection of HIV, the AIDS virus, according to Associated Press.

Justin Oo | The Poly Post

Babies Lulu and Nana were the results of He’s gene-editing experiment. Born from an HIV-positive father and HIV-negative mother, the twins are now resistant from contracting the illness their father has. Controversy soon followed the researcher. He is scrutinized by the public for conducting the experiment in secret. Some praised him and called He, “the rogue scientist,” “China’s Dr. Frankenstein,” and a “mad genius,” as written in the South China Morning Post. The People’s Court of Shenzhen disagreed with his work, they sentenced him to three years of imprisonment and held him financially responsible for any future genetic complications that might occur in the babies’ lives. He may have had the best intentions, but he crossed the line of regulated science.

Although Lulu and Nana are the first of many genetically engineered human experiments, gene editing has shown its benefits. The tool has unveiled great opportunities in correcting the course of unfair diseases placed in humans. However, the regulation of gene editing should be a high priority.

The ethics of designer babies needs to be debated. I believe gene editing could negatively affect our future if it is used to aesthetically change children. U.S. News found in 2021 that there are companies offering parents the means of selecting “better” embryos, although in the form of superficial features has yet to be done. There are some who may use genetic engineering virtuously to prevent hereditary diseases while there are others who may abuse gene editing to design their child with the “best” attributes. I think it is likely that people will create humans with perfect symmetrical faces and ideal physiques for sports. A child will unfortunately grow up to think that their physical features are what creates their success. These exploitative fantasies could be manipulated into actuality.

Gene editing might also cause major repercussions for religion. There may be some who will find gene editing of a person’s exterior to be a defiance against God’s creation. A few branches of Judaism prohibits members from trimming their hair because their body belongs to God and therefore they cannot alter it. I do believe there is a higher being and even though I don’t practice this rule, I understand the sentiment. Like many religions, I hold the strong belief that one should not change themselves outwardly but inwardly. Changing the body of a healthy child before they are born is disrespectful toward their creator and their lineage.

Parents considering changing their children to look different from them is also flawed. The traits inherited from previous generations should not be seen as “ugly” or “a mistake.” This mindset will only further indoctrinate artificiality and self-hatred into future generations. We all hold a part of our parents within ourselves, we cannot let that go. If we change these genetics, then we are changing something special that connects us with our family. Your genetic material is inherited from hundreds to thousands of previous generations. Genetically modifying it for a superficial reason would counter all of the meaning and history behind that from your ancestors. The gifts of our family’s pasts remind us of who we’re from.

The future reaps the consequences of today. Gene editing is still in its infancy. Going forth with designer babies may give birth to abominable effects on our descendants. One enhancement to the length of our arms could inadvertently mutate the body in a harmful way unknowingly passed down the generations. The harm would only be discovered after it is too late. It is too risky to change the genetic makeup of the most precious thing in life: ourselves.

What needs to be changed is our mentality. Our different eye colors, curly or straight hair, tall or short limbs aren’t what make us. The power to change these superficial features will not help. As humans, we should not change our children to conform to body standards, but instead, change body standards to conform to us. When you can stop caring about vain appearances, it is only then that we can start caring about what matters. What’s important are the things you’ve done and the things you are going to do. You aren’t your body, a shell your soul was born in. You are only who you think you are.

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