Genetic engineering and the possibility of designer babies
Dr. Matthew Ademola
November 27, 2012
Shannon Brownlee is the acting director of the New America Health Policy Program and is also a nationally known writer and essayist. In March of 2002 she wrote an article for the Washington Monthly called Designer Babies. Brownlee explains the birth of cytoplasmic transfer in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process and the technical advances from this process that is making designer babies possible.
How is the creation of designer babies even possible? Well the process began with the creation of IVF and then in the 1990s embryologist Jacques Cohen created the process called cytoplasmic transfer. This process gave women who did not have success with normal IVF hope by placing cytoplasm from a fertile egg into the infertile women’s eggs. The first baby born from this process was in 1997 and at first was deemed a huge success and advancement in technology. Then 4 years later Cohen admitted to adding mitochondrial DNA to the embryo what in essence gave the child three parents, the mother, father and the mitochondrial DNA donor. This was the first form of human genetic modification and the long term ramifications are still unknown. One of the children born with the mitochondrial DNA has developed a mild form of autism but it has not been determined if it is because of the genetic modification.
Technical advances in the IVF process have made it possible for parents to choose the sex of their child and for embryos to be test for diseases. Fertility doctors are now being asked if they can ensure their child won’t be hyperactive or gay. The only thing that stands in the way of this, practicing eugenics is the ethics and morals of fertility doctors and technical...