Designer Baby

Designer Baby

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.


Introduction

Designer Baby
  • 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 
    1. Appearance (like height, skin colour, eyes etc.)
    2. Disease resistance
    3. Intelligence
  • 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.

Updates

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.
Euthenics

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