Made to Order Babies

 Béatrice Poulin 

Everything is in constant change whether it be technology, fashion trends or our way of thinking. However, the only thing that can’t be altered is our DNA… or can it? The future is in genetic engineering. There is no doubt that this is a very frightening and strangely conflicting prospect for our future societies.

First off, genetically engineered children will become the norm all over the world in the future. This idea seems unfathomable today, but people will slowly warm up to it and it will be completely accepted. According to David Tal, it will be perceived as immoral to bear a child whose DNA hasn’t been edited to protect his health. As for the children of parents who did not want or were scared to get the genetic enhancements, they will be seen as burdens on society. This phenomenon will most likely be witnessed in countries where health care is public. Evidently, a person born with many health issues generates more costs and those charges have to be covered by the public. The less people with genetic diseases, the lower the costs associated to health care. In the end, it will almost seem cruel to deny your offspring the genetic enhancements that guaranty him a healthy life.

Furthermore, having sex with the intention of sexual reproduction will be made unnecessary in a few decades. It seems rather logical, since everybody will want to use the genetic screening and enhancements to guarantee that their child will be healthy, they will have no choice, but to conceive their child in a laboratory. The potential father will provide the sperm and the mother-to-be, a piece of skin. The hard task of harvesting eggs will be greatly simplified; the skin will be used to create stem cells which will then be used to make eggs. After the egg and sperm have been fertilised, the parents will have the privilege of selecting the embryo they want after getting all of them screened for diseases, cosmetic appearance and behavioral characteristics. Finally, it will be implanted into the woman. Professor Greely explains all of this in his book, The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction. Ultimately, the gain of information about the genome of your future child will be so incredible that nobody will want to have a baby the «normal» way.

Lastly, there is a chance of genetic discrimination. This wave of inequity will be set in motion because the rich, who have good health coverage and more money, will have gained access to the designer baby technology much sooner. In the future, for example, employers might favor candidates with higher IQ genes, putting them on a pedestal compared to the people who did not get the enhancements. However, the genetic discrimination will not persist for more than a few decades. «Governments will eventually step in to promote or enforce this technology much the same as mandated vaccinations today», David Tal explains. In the end, it will seem very intrusive, but governments will find a way to sell the idea by claiming it is to protect the rights of the unborn and the discrimination will come to an end.

Surely not everybody will agree with the idea of genetic engineering and the perfect human. Some populations might prefer to only eliminate certain diseases, while others might want to go as far as changing the entire human form. Could it be that with all these alterations, we see a split in the human species in the future?



Home  |  Paper Editions  |  Team