Customized Children: A Peek Into the Not-so-Distant Future
The D-I-Y Child
We have all done it before, fantasize about what our ideal child would look and act like. How tall would they be? What color would their eyes be, their hair, their skin? What kind of attitude, demeanor? Most of us hope for kind and beautiful children that are sensitive and brilliant. Well, the fantasy of having your child turn out a certain way with your own edits is no longer stuff of science fiction.
In fact, it isn’t the science of editing the genes of children that is holding us back right now, but the ethics of it. In fact, there has been so much serious consideration about this genetic tampering that China has ordered an inquiry on gene-edited babies, likely to get a better grip on what it could mean for the future of the world.
More specifically, the government of China is planning to conduct a series of investigations on a claim from a Chinese scientist that has created the world’s first genetically edited children. As you can probably imagine, this claim has already created a lot of controversy around it, and whether true or not, carries some serious implications for our world.
Being able to choose the sex, the color of your baby’s eye or skin does sound appealing, but there is are many things to consider first. This particular scientist had a far less vein pursuit, altering DNA to prevent the contraction of HIV/AIDS, sparking a heated debate. Some consider this a form of eugenics, while others doubt the merit of its claim, China’s National Health Commission has ordered an investigation into the matter. Whether China’s leaders are psychopathic, or the scientists are, what is interesting is the scientist who has made the claim was educated in Stanford, giving this story international appeal.
A New Take on Medicine
While we aren’t sure whether or not this controversial technique has even worked or not, the implications of its application are exciting. Imagine a world where children’s DNA is altered in a way that they never have to worry about certain diseases. This negates the need for many things such as vaccines, which can be costly and inaccessible, and make it much easier to get rid of diseases that currently plague so many.
This kind of preventative medicine helps to sort out an overwhelmed and costly medical field, and could help eliminate other deadly diseases just by routinely editing genes in the same way that we take certain medical precautions now.
Searching for Side-Effects
All good science takes time and due diligence in order to see if there are any issues that arise. That is part of what this investigation will be about, making sure that this procedure is not only effective, but safe, and without terrible side-effects.
There is also an ethical aspect to this story as well. Even if there are no physical side-effects, would this mean that individuals who are wealthier will have healthier and more resilient children? Who decides where these procedures go? These are all questions that must be answered before we move forward with this exciting technology.