Now you can design your own babies, thanks to CRISPR and The Nuffield Ethics Council on Bioethics. As a parent, you can edit the genes of your baby. Babies can now be genetically modified to be stronger, smarter and even prettier. Apart from this, one can also prevent genetic mutations and thus increase the chance of the baby being born healthy.
Deciding upon the legal and ethical framework of this technology just became the need of the hour, with this idea taking shape of reality. Genetic editing technologies like CRISPR have made it more possible than it ever was. Due to CRISPR, it may soon be possible to scientifically rewrite the DNA of the children. However, if we’re going to be doing this, there needs to be a set of rules to abide by.
That’s where the bioethics group – The Nuffield Council on Bioethics comes in. According to the Nuffield Council, genetically modifying babies is acceptable if and only if these two conditions are met.
- Genetic changes would need to be made with the welfare of the modified children in mind.
- These changes should not increase disadvantage or division in society.
The conclusion may be all for “designer babies” but the two conditions that need to be met will help keep the process in check. It is important that the technology is not misused because then, it just becomes playing god. For example, it makes sense that we change or alter a certain segment of DNA to prevent the child from a fatal disease like Huntington’s but otherwise? According to The Nuffield Council, there are ethical ways of genetically modifying the human genome to go beyond genetic fatalities. If we can successfully edit the human embryo, it might become acceptable to make humans immune to certain diseases and resilient to tolerate extreme environments.It is morally permissible to enhance the capabilities of a future person. However, make no mistake, The Nuffield Council does not endorse this. But it is a fact that it isn’t inherently unethical to do so.
The physical and social well-being of genetically edited people need to be protected. Edits should improve the health, but the future person should not be discriminated against. It is important to know which changes to make, and which ones to not, because this would make a huge impact on the future humans too because as we all know, genetic traits are passed on. If there is a single mistake while genetically modifying a baby, the chances of future generations being affected increases dramatically.
The report therefore, concludes saying “Genetically editing embryos would only be ethically acceptable if carried out in accordance with principles of social justice and solidarity.”
According to bioethicist George Annas, “Humans have more flaws than we know what to do with, one of them is that we don’t know what it would mean to make a better baby.”