Genetics, Eugenics and Society

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Imagine you are sitting in your extremely uncomfortable hospital styled doctors office, with the intention to start a family. You walk in and introduce your case, but instead of being presented with the enthusiasm you expected, your handed a plastic clipboard and a slab of paperwork labeled, “design your child”. The categories would consist of Gender, Appearance, Intelligence, Disease, Personality. All of which you get to personally pick and choose by hand. This may seem great, however, we have a moral obligation to protect our society from the dangers of allowing designer babies.

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Today, this is easily achieved through science, however the only thing lacking is the moral and ethical support. The concept of a designer baby is one that has soared through the film and television industry, always falling into a dystopia storyline. This can potentially be seen as a warning to society about the danger that associate with the creation of designer babies. As not one of these television shows or movies have acted in its favour.

To design your perfect child comes with an extremely large price tag. You are paying for the harvesting, gene editing and then the implanting, all of which are in itself is extremely painful, extremely risky and carry a very low success rate.

Yes gene editing has the ability to eradicate diseases from plagued families, however the science itself is a constant tease for those who cannot afford it, segregating society into the rich and everyone else. For a gene to be edited, it costs anywhere between 25-45k, and on top of this, the IVF process one can pay up to 100k. It is a large sum of money to be spending on a small probability.

As I have just outlined the science world is a money making business and those with money, therefore gain access to money related privileges. Dr David King, a former molecular biologist and founder of Human genetics alert, describes this as “once you start creating a society in which rich people’s children get biological advantages over other children, basic notion of human equality goes out the window”. We will end up with a nation of perfect babies that are extremely smart, cosmetically attractive and free from disease, yet superior to the rest of society.

Similar to the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca, which illustrates this exact reality. And what does this say to those who children are not designer and have disabilities, are they not worthy? Or valued?. Does society really value perfection over all human life?

If society were to continue with this behaviour, this value and worth would be completely lost. All who are not genetically edited would therefore become inferior to those who are, leading us to the scary world of Eugenics. Eugenics is by the Austrlian Oxford Dictionary as, “The science of improving (specifically human) population by controlled breeding (often meaning sterilization) for desirable inherited characteristics” and in simple terms, the act of creating a perfect human race. But who chooses what is desired and what’s not? It’s not me, it’s not you, it’s those with extreme power.

The study of genetics has an extremely strong connection to eugenics. This is confrontingly highlighted through the actions of Hitler during His reign in Nazi Germany, where scientific knowlage was misused and abused.

Hitler a megalomaniac gained control of life changing science, showing that when gene editing falls into the wrong hands, our fate has already been laid out in history. 

Just because we have the knowledge is it morally right to use it? do we have a responsibility to science uphold the moral and ethical standards? When creating a designer baby, the question is not want you want but what is society valuing? In saying this a designer child will have to meet these social standards. Most will likely resembling a white, hetrosextual, cosmetically gifted person, who ironically is what society would call perfect. Again, do you see the dangers here? Through genetically editing children to fit into societies picture perfect expectations just leads society to one that is silently by governed by eugenics, as all children will look and be the same.

The technology that allows for designer babies is moving at an extremely fast pace, and is racing well in front of any form of ethics. This is clearly showing that science is not yet ready to leave the lab. There are “rogue scientist” speeding ahead, without the ethical backing. For example Chinese scientist Dr He, has recently successfully birthed a set of genetically edited twins with the aim to prevent the inheritance of the HIV virus.

However during the International Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong in November of last year, Dr He had no support from other scientists, instead he was faced with extreme backlash based purely on his lack of ethical and legal clearance. These twins now have a life of testing a head of them, their edited genes will now be passed on to their offspring.

Humans cannot be trusted with a science the size of this. Wherever there is a need and money there is malpractice, greed and fame. This science is not new and we know the power it holds, however it is imperative to ensure that the science stays in testing mode until it is properly and ethically proven safe.

How far do you push the parameters of science? Humans are playing God, and this is a role were equipped to do! To prevent this from happening, there needs to be more legislation and understanding to put a stop to malpractice. Scientists are gambling human lives, not test tubes. Fortunately Australia does have laws preventing individuals from designing their babies, however countries such as the US do not and it is vital that we do to follow in their direction, as a genetically modified society that is inauthentic is one that we do not want. 

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Genetics, Eugenics and Society. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved November 28, 2022 , from
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