Bioethics Blogs

Editing Genes

The idea of “designer babies” is not an uncommon discussion topic in bioethics communities or pop-culture. From its depiction in “classic” bioethics ethics movies like GATTACA, to current medical practices, like allowing for selective implantation of IVF created embryos, the idea of choosing our children has moved from science fiction to being realized as an actual possibility.

As I was reading the news yesterday, I came across an article that highlighted a new technic being tested in China that would take this to a whole new level. The study being highlighted is one where Chinese scientists are using a technic to “edit” human genes through a process known as “Crispr” to modify human DNA. There are so many ethical concerns regarding this research experiment and it’s potential application, that to address all of them would far exceed the limits of a blog post. However, I do want to raise some of my broader concerns for consideration with the advent of this experiment.

First, I am concerned about the very nature of the experiment. Eighty-five (85) human embryos were tested on with no intention of allowing them to fully develop. Experimenting on human lives at the earliest stages with the intent to destroy them, or to prevent them from developing, poses a major ethical problem. It regards human life as disposable by allowing for its destruction at the earliest stages of development. Additionally, the article also refers to the embryos tested as being deemed “defective” (please note defective was not defined). As I discussed in my post on April 13, 2015, discrimination due to a perceived “defect” is highly problematic.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.