Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Custom made babies, a great advancement... not

An interesting article titled "Designer Babies - Like it or not, here they come" and dated on February 25, 2009, popped up as a result of a search I made on Google. There, the author debates the multiple benefits that custom-made children have, such as a lesser risk of having babies inheriting conditions from their parents. Currently, it is possible to choose the baby's gender in advance through this "technology", and not long from now, parents will even have the option of choosing the future-to-be-born's hair and eyes color, skin type, and complexion. The article claims that this "era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back", and it might be right.

Even if this so-called technology is already available (supposedly any couple can currently go and custom-make their child's gender for only $18,400 USD), we should step back behind the hype that this could mean and really think of the consequences of having such a trend becoming mainstream. The issues that immediately come to my mind include:
  • The disproportion between the amount of boys and girls born each year. See, for instance, the case of China, where currently there is a remarkable amount of men not being able to find partners. And that is just one example. Give certain cultures the option to select beforehand the gender of their babies, and it won't take many generations until the ratio of men and women will be scary.
  • The considerable reduction of ethnicities. Let's face it, there are certain stereotypes that people tend to regard as "beautiful". Some parents would not hesitate to choose for their children certain attributes that are not proper of their race or culture. Light colored eyes, white / tanned skin, and blond hair are among other nonsense attributes that individuals would choose for their offspring. That, of course, to the expense of losing continuity on some unique, nice features that other races show too.
  • Genetic modification of the human race. We all know, Mother Nature does not spare us when we mess with her. Artificially modifying our genes won't go unnoticed. Eventually, the same modifications that will have reduced the chances of inheriting or developing certain medical conditions in future generations, might also potentially bring new conditions that we can't even imagine.
As far as I am concerned, there are already available a few technologies that allow to detect the risk of developing diseases in a baby and to take actionable steps to remedy that, if necessary. I don't really see what benefit will create having tailor-made babies, and in my own point of view, I think these practices should be heavily regulated or banned.

In my particular point of view, I find these new "developments" very far from exhilarating. To me, it looks more like our society, just like Aldous Huxley predicted, is moving towards the mass production of individuals in which people won't be people anymore. They will be more like products.

Photo: www.californiaprolife.org


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