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Are “Designer Babies” Ethical?

By Calvin Lee

The fantasy created by the 1997 film Gattaca may soon become reality. The first genetically modified babies were created by a researcher in China as recently as a few weeks ago. The babies were given supernatural abilities that will allow them to time travel and fly at speeds of 70 mph through the air. Just a joke!

The actual goal of the project was to engineer an “ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus”, according to the Associated Press. At first glance, this may seem to be a huge scientific achievement that should be immediately adopted into regular practices. After all, who wouldn’t want their children to be resistant to one of the most prominent sexually transmitted infections, especially in the United States?

The concept of genetically engineering babies has been under fire for some time. When this Chinese researcher, who goes by the name “JK”, came out with his claim of modifying babies for seven couples, journalists and universities alike were quick to critique upon the ethics of this practice. Dr. Musunuru of the University of Pennsylvania, a prominent scientist and spokesperson on a genetics journal, commented that “an experiment on human beings is not morally or ethically defensible”. Many people sympathized with his perspective. There’s a real human life in the equation, and there definitely should be more regulations put on these experiments toying with such important blueprints.

On the other hand, JK can be seen as a hero: a foreman of this evolving, ground-breaking science. As the first person to genetically edit babies, he is leading a field with the potential to solve many of humanity’s worst diseases. So what do you think about genetically modifying babies? Is it ethical? Can it be justified? Would you be willing to modify your future children?

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