Oxford Professor: Parents Should Be Able to Alter Genes in Embryos for Character Flaws
August 20, 2012 10:08 PM
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(Source: Columbia Pictures )
Professor Julian Savulescu
The process would be similar to checking embryos for conditions like Down's syndrome
Imagine being able to design a human the way we use computer software to design every day items like clothing or furniture. University of Oxford Professor Julian Savulescu recently said that parents should have the choice to do such a thing, allowing them to create the kind of child they desire rather than leaving it to chance.
According to Savulescu, the
manipulation of genetics has evolved
over the years and has already proven to be beneficial to those who are expecting. For instance, parents can use tests, which focus on particular genes in embryos, to see if their child will have certain conditions like Down's syndrome.
While this type of testing is not seen as an issue, Savulescu said the testing of an embryo's genes to see what kind of personality flaws it could have has raised concern amongst the public -- and he believes it shouldn't.
"Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to to select ethically better children," said Savulescu. "They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others. If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring -- rather than consigning them to the natural lottery -- then we should."
Savulescu's ideas have been compared to those of the Nazis, who adopted the eugenics movements during World War II. However, Savulescu argues that this is different because parents can choose to participate or not. They don't have to genetically alter their children, but they should be able to choose to, he said.
"Whether we like it or not, the
future of humanity
is in our hands now," said Savulescu. "Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance."
Savulescu posed this argument in a recent article in
What do you think? Could eliminating potential character flaws in embryos create a perfect human race, or could there be serious, unseen implications with having so much power over this thing called life?
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RE: All these arguments
8/21/2012 11:00:19 AM
Right and wrong is subjective..
Contrary to what proud new Mothers and Fathers believe, their brand new little bundle of joy isn't special or a gift to anyone else but themselves. There is nothing remarkable about childbirth. It happens about 4 times every second. Hardly a miracle.
It's in our genes to find a mate, procreate and leave a legacy and pass on our name/genes. I don't share this primal urge to add another resource consuming mouth to feed to a world which is fast becoming overpopulated as it is but i digress...
They aren't talking about creating a pre-programmed clone of yourself with no independent thought, created to do our bidding here. Besides, even if you could design a baby from the ground up and chose to make your son 8 feet tall, there's no guarantee that he's going to even like basketball or any sports for that matter.
They are just removing hereditary and preventable diseases and psychological issues and other deficiencies. In a way they are just improving on the natural process, as we, as Humans, (selfishly) look for healthy, attractive mates as it is an indicator of good genes which in turn improves the chances of healthy offspring.
I would think the thought of no more children's wards filled with kids with leukemia or children born with conditions like autism, or being suspetible to things later in life from everything from Alzheimer's to MS through to heart disease, would excite someone who actually does see children as a precious gift? Those kids will have a better head start in life and even things like being more resistant to addiction, benefits everyone.. less drug addicts, less drug related crime, less junkies and alcoholics clogging the hospital system and driving on our roads.
I think it is very exciting, that one day once we've perfected removing undesirable traits, we can actually start improving the human race by effectively speeding up evolution by increasing potential IQ, memory, muscle development, who knows maybe even things like motivation and thirst for knowledge so kids actually want to study, stay in school and go on to university.
As for the concern that parents will try to manipulate their children for their own selfish reasons/greed/ failed childhood dreams etc, we unfortunately already see that is quite common today.. When you see pushy/obsessive mothers dressing their 3 year old daughters up in skanky outfits caked up in make up dancing like strippers in Toddlers in Tiaras beauty pageants, and the Father looking for an easy meal ticket or trying to relive his glory days through his son, aggressively forcing him to train and play a sport the child doesn't even enjoy.
I've always said i was born 100 years too early. With the breakthroughs we've made in science and medicine in the last few decades, the next century will be incredible. No more invasive blood test or prostate exams (i can't get a needle without fainting.) I can imagine walking through a metal detector like object and being scanned for every possible disease at once and having results right there and then. People who today, are confined to wheelchairs for life with paraplegia/quadriplegia, would be back on their feet in no time after a little surgery and rehab. Blind people given the gift of sight with artificial or transplanted eyes. Things today that are physical, emotional death sentences, could be cured as easy as taking a couple of pills. Exciting times ahead.
RE: All these arguments
8/21/2012 12:59:09 PM
Bullshit. There is right and there is wrong. It's precisely this kind of thinking that has enabled terrible people to do terrible things.
Do different societies have different laws that tolerate certain things differently? Yes. Some Arab countries punish a woman when she is raped because she was out alone. Does that make it right? Hell no.
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