It is the year 2037. You and your partner decide that you are ready to have a child, so you go to the doctor to pick out your baby. Manipulating your eggs/sperm, the doctor is able to ensure that your baby will have gray eyes, grow to be 6ft tall, and even be an intellectual genius. Does this idea scare you, or intrigue you?
Humans have been genetically engineering life for hundreds of years. From modified foods (GMOs) to animals, humans have learned how to select and express favorable traits by tinkering with DNA. However, the discovery of CRISPR [Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats] used for genome manipulation has allowed scientists to illuminate the possibilities of a new future.
CRISPR is a protein complex found in archaea and bacteria that is used by the organism as a defense system. In 2013, scientists at MIT isolated and experimented with this protein in animal studies and received shocking results. With the advancement of this technology, the possibilities for ‘designer babies’, eternal youth, and curing life-long disease is now on the table. Genetic disorders such as Cystic fibrosis and/or Down syndrome all have the possibility to be eradicated; while cancer that develops from damaged DNA can also be healed. Today, we look back when people would die from the common cold, but in the future, people could think the same about cancer.
Chinese scientists have already created the first modified ‘designer baby’ in 2016. Though the technology is still very new and in trial stages; once this door is opened, it will be impossible to close. As this technology progresses and gets more refined, beyond curing diseases, the temptation to select ‘vanity’ traits will grow. Modified humans could become the new standard!
Science fiction is quickly becoming a reality, and Pandora’s box has begun to open. Things are picking up pace quickly! Regardless of your stance with this issue, genetic engineering will affect you. People alive today may be the first test subjects for this new technology. The possibilities are truly endless and quite frankly frightening if put in the wrong hands. Ignoring this possibility would only cause more problems, so only by participation and education can we ethically move forward into the future with healing in mind. We do not know much about what is in store for the future, but science is well on its way to figuring it out.
Psalm 139:13 – ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’