Monday, February 22, 2010

Genetic Engineering

Some political/scientifical (yes spell check, I DO realize that's not a real word) things on my mind today...
Designer babies.
This article from the New York Daily News talks about a Dr. Jeff Steinberg who is offering parents the chance to pick the hair and eye color of their next baby-shaped accessory. Sure to become the next fad among the Hollywood elites in their bored, over-paid lives, genetic engineering is theoried to be able to effect height, weight, IQ, temperament, gender, sexuality- even, perhaps, taste and preferences. We can all see where this going, I think. Remember that kid we all knew growing up, the one whose mom wouldn't let her do ANYTHING? No running, no playing, no yelling, no sleep-overs, no camping, no computer, no video games... the kid with the list of allergies exactly as long as the list of his mom's neuroses... the polite, well-mannered little boys and girls who grew up under the quashing thumb of a crushingly orthodox religion, only to become adults who pierced themselves and ate sugar and became gay.
But thanks to the miracle of genetic engineering and embryo selection, this pesky problem will soon be eradicated! Give parents the opportunity to select the embryo least likely to ever defy or disappoint, and voila! A utopia of harmony unrivaled since the paradise of America, circa 1955.
I'm scared, too.
It's gonna be like Gattaca meets Pleasantville meets Stepford.

Put aside the more obvious objections- it's not safe, the technology requires testing on humans, isn't selecting one fetus to implant and "terminating" the others the same as abortion? (worse because you chose consciously to create and kill that embryo), the cost will create social divide, what happens when the super-race gets tired of the old models and causes generation slaughter, how are we going to feel when we're obsolete?- and let's get down to brass tacks: it's just plain CREEPY. And boring! Where's the mystery? Where's the FUN?

Now, if this was a widely read blog, I'd expect a couple of responses in the pattern of "Well you try having three children with down syndrome and one with Duchenne's and one with luekemia and you tell me where the "fun" is in THAT. Genetic engineering is the future."

Dr. Steinberg agrees.

In fact, his proclamation of the future is pretty interesting: ""Genetic health is the wave of the future," he (Dr. Steinberg) said. "It's already happening and it's not going to go away. It's going to expand. So if they've got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there's nothing that's going to stop it.""


Cue creepy dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.That sounds like some kind of evil monologue. Thank you, Dr. Doomsday. You hear that, internet population? We're powerless. Progress is progress and mere humans are helpless to stop it.

What happened to trust in God? What happened to good old Mother Nature? And what on Earth ever gave us the idea that WE were in the best position to decide the future of our race? I have very little confidence in my own ability to decide my OWN future, much less that of my future offspring. As for the people who say that it's useful for medical reasons, I provide this soundly reasoned rebuttal:

Yes, Well, they bloody well aren't DOING that with it now are they?

The trouble is, it's all the look-y type things that are easy to get at, on the outside part of the what's-its. The disease bits are much harder to identify and take out. Add to that the objection that even if they could be found, we can't CHANGE them- we can just terminate the embryos (Emily's take: slaughter the potential babies) that HAVE them. We're not curing cancer- we're killing every person who might potentially ever have cancer.

Which, by the way, is everyone.

That's the true road to a world free of disease and defects- kill everybody. Genius. There'll be no more war or pain or hatred (or love or music or art or family or society or civilization, unless the cats aren't telling us something)

Moreover, we still don't understand how genes effect each other. For example, there was a study a few years back ( I don't know where and I don't know when, I read it a few hours ago with no idea I'd ever think about it again and silly me, I don't routinely take citation notes in light reading. I certainly hope this doesn't pop up in the future as a plagiarism issue and ruin my academic reputation. To be on the safe side, I'll avoid building one. Anyway about the study) that found that when a gene was injected to cure some immune syndrome, it did in fact cure the immune thing. And then the patients had leukemia.

All of this is so uncertain and just reeks of being such a BAD idea. Think about where this will lead. It's a superficial future ahead of us, ladies and gentlemen, if we don't stop trying to play God. I've seen what kind of people are out there- I'd rather leave the fate of the world up to God, fate, luck, or blind chance, than place it in the hands of my fellow humans.


  1. "...they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there's nothing that's going to stop it."
    Dr. Steinberg

    "God Himself cannot sink this ship"
    Captain Smith, Titanic

    People have far too much confidence in their own power to alter their world. As you point out, try to fix one thing, and how many more are going to be ruined?