What is a Designer Baby?
DNA holds the blueprint of an organism's individual characteristics. The segments of DNA that control certain features are called genes. Using certain types of enzymes, scientists have been able to cut specific genes and use them to create customized strands of DNA. These strands can then be inserted into an embryo to alter the organism's genetics.
The rapid advances in knowledge of human DNA and the ability to modify it has led to the possibility of creating designer babies. Currently, basic types of genetic screening and alteration are possible. Fertility doctors already can use genetic screening and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to select fertilized embryos according to gender. They can also check genes for certain abnormalities or potential future hereditary diseases, such as diabetes or cancer. In some cases, doctors can use IVF and genetic modification to create designer babies using only healthy, normal genes.
Although the potential for using genetic engineering for the good of the human race is an exciting prospect, the technology also has many downsides, according to critics.
Most opponents of genetic modification are not too worried about the ability to choose a baby's sex or eye color, but are worried that it will lead to more and more genetic interference. Many religious groups oppose the technology, stating that people should accept the children God gives them. Some countries have outlawed the use of genetic alteration in humans. Others are trying to come up with laws that allow certain types of genetic screening and modification that relate to disease prevention, while making other types of genetic interference illegal.