Regrettably, you slip your feet into your plush slippers as you prepare yourself for the punishing day that lies ahead of you. You groan as you’re stripped from the cozy bed that you were in for a mere four hours last night. In the bathroom, you wash your face, brush your teeth, and comb your hair. As you’re getting rid of that pesky cowlick, you notice hair missing in a circular pattern on the crown of your head. Your partner confirms it, and you release a melancholy sigh: you’ve become victim to your family’s history of male pattern baldness. But what if there was a way to redesign your genes to prevent male pattern baldness in the first place? There already is — however, it is not without its detrimental consequences.
This redesigning of genes has resulted in the creation of designer babies. Despite the name, designer babies aren’t babies made by Balenciaga, Versace, or Prada. Instead, they’re defined as “babies whose genetic makeup has been selected or altered, often to include a particular gene or to remove genes associated with [a] disease.” In essence, these babies’ genetic material has been genetically modified, meaning that parts of their DNA are artificial and not natural. There are plenty of ways that this genetic modification may happen. For example, we may examine CRISPR/Cas9, which was just developed in 2012. This method uses enzymes to target and snip genes with extraordinary accuracy. However, despite the possibilities that this technology offers, the effects, in the long run, may be more deleterious than they are beneficial. In fact, genome editing in human embryos will indeed have unpredictable effects on future generations. Therefore, it has been rendered by many to be unethical. Additionally, because the technologies associated with gene editing are relatively new, its health risks and still unknown. Consequently, it has earned a negative reputation across the world.
Concerning the discussion of the ethics of designer babies and the technologies associated with it, we must consider both the effects on humans today and on the generations that will carry both our names and the effects of the technology that we choose to use. The truth is that the nature of such effects is still ambiguous and will remain that way for a considerable amount of time; therefore, the human race must reevaluate its virtues when considering the use of technologies that modify the human genome.