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Designer Babies, Ethics, and DNA Testing
Has Gattaca almost arrived? Remember the scene in the film when the parents are in a fertility clinic ordering their perfect bundle of joy by going over a shopping list of possible genetic traits they do or do not want their baby to inherit? We are nowhere near that capability of using genetic testing in this capacity, but some scientists are concerned about us opening that door from several fronts. Is this a concern we should be worried about at this time or not?
Actually, no one has proposed trying to do use DNA testing to do this. All that has been proposed is using genetic testing to cure disease and help parents understand diseases that would be passed down to their children. That sounds like a positive benefit for society, so why all the hype? The argument sounds like this: We don't know where this science will lead, but it sounds as if it will lead to designer babies. That is actually a slippery slope argument as there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow another. If X has occurred, then Y must happen. This type of argument is especially illogical if, as in this case, there are many other steps that must lead to Y.
According to Rob Stein's recent NPR article, "Proposed Treatments to Fix Genetic Diseases Raises Ethical Issues," some are concerned about the science of introducing the healthy mitochondrial DNA of a second mother in a woman's egg who lacks healthy mitochondrial DNA. This has just been developed in order to prevent the passing of genetically inherited diseases; however, some are concerned this could lead to using DNA science to create designer babies. Stein quotes Mark Sauer of the Columbia University Medical Center, as saying his team of scientists and another are both hoping to "cure disease and to help women deliver healthy normal children".
And others are concerned about DNA testing companies going down this path though none have said they are. According to Alexandar Sifferlin in her Time article, "Company Patents First Designer Baby Maker, Now What"? one DNA testing company has just been granted a patent which could allow prospective parents to look at the genetic traits their future child could have with "drop-down menus". That is a huge breakthrough, and we have no idea where that science will eventually lead. However, the company denies it is in the business of making designer babies and says this is solely for the knowledge of genetic traits parents might pass down to their child. So why are some people concerned?
There has been a fear of science since Galileo and how it could change society. DNA testing for ancestry is a marvelous tool. We have discovered diseases, tracked criminals, and opened doors for people to discover their past. And we are just beginning. We are at the beginning of an exciting Genomics era. Science is not the problem or DNA testing. But like money, it is what you do with it that matters. There are, perhaps, some things we should not do. Like recreate Gattaca. But no one has suggested that, so maybe we need to take a deep breath and calm down. At least for now.
Research & Development
Our chemical development and manufacturing specialties include our Green Chemistry Toolbox for biocatalysis, homogenous catalysis and micro reactor technology with an integrated approach of chemistry and biotechnology.
The pharmacy profession, exercised with the title Chemical - Pharmaceutical, is oriented toward science, technology and use of medicines in order to meet the needs of the population in this important aspect of health.
Career Opportunities: These professionals can exercise independently, installing its own pharmacy or pharmaceutical laboratory.