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Genetically Modified Children Can Avoid Disease; Gene Editing Not For Designer Babies

Update Date: Feb 15, 2017 07:40 AM EST

Genetically modified children are now acceptable depending on certain circumstances. However, a United States-based panel thinks that the gene editing technology should not be used to make designer babies.

Four years ago, a technology for editing DNA has transformed science by altering the genetic makeup of plants and animals. Now, experts want to apply the gene editing to human embryos, sperm and egg cells.

The National Academy of Sciences, the blue-ribbon advisory board on science policy, recommended that genetically modified children be permitted in the future to prevent the birth of children with serious diseases. According to the panel, gene editing must be approached with caution.

The report on using gene editing tools released by the panel consisting of 22 members of scientist and experts has 216 pages and was researched and written for a year. However, their recommendation has alarmed moral and technical experts.

The gene editing technology should not be used to make designer babies, but only to avoid serious diseases. Attempts on enhancements like making babies more intelligent, taller or better0looking should not be pursued.

In 2016, the United States Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill has already forbid the Food and Drug Administration to consider any proposal to create genetically modified children. That said, any proposal on gene editing to modify an embryo or create a child should be ignored and could not proceed in legal terms in the US.

Tetsuya Ishii, a bioethicist at Hokkaido University in Japan, said that laboratory research in gene editing in human embryos is already taking place in Chine, Sweden and United Kingdom. Ishii believes that the panel has drawn a clear path for the future use of gene tools.

Genetically modified children will be made possible by snipping out sections of DNA and replacing them with other genetic instructions. Disease caused by genetic defects can be eliminated, but non-medical alterations can also be passed on to the next generation.

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