This article deals with ‘Designer Baby – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’, an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and Technology, you can click here.
- Baby whose genetic makeup has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (like CRISPR Cas9) to ensure the presence, absence or enhancement of certain traits.
- These traits include
- Appearance (like height, skin colour, eyes etc.)
- Disease resistance
- Bio-information of physical characteristics is encoded in the genetic material. With the ability to alter this information, scientists try to control some of these features.
Discussion: Should it be allowed?
Pros of allowing this technology
- It reduces the risk of genetic diseases. Thus, it prevents the next generation of the family from getting characteristic diseases.
- It has the potential to increase the human life span by up to 30 years.
- Designer babies have a greater probability of success in life.
- Development in the field will help in a better understanding of genetics.
Cons of allowing this technology
- It will create a social gap as the designer babies will have better looks, intelligence etc. and thus more chances of success.
- The genetic engineering technology used is not 100% safe yet.
- It has the possibility of damaging the gene pool.
- It is not an inclusive technology as it is expensive, and only the rich can afford it.
2019: A Chinese scientist claimed that he made the world’s first “genetically-edited” babies in whom a gene linked to HIV was removed using the CRISPR technique.
Side Topic: Euthenics
- Euthenics is the science of improving the well-being of humans by improving the external factor of their environment.
- In contrast to Eugenics which is a capitalist ideology, Euthenics belongs to socialist ideology. It emphasises that instead of changing the genes, governments should provide a better environment for the people to develop.