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How long before you visit a baby boutique to design your children from genetic scrap?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
2/26/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

FDA evaluating request to make designer babies.

Officials from the FDA are today discussing the possibility of creating a real designer baby. The baby would be made from the DNA  of three parents, two women and a man, and would be designed by scientists to be resistant to genetic disease.

For now designer babies are about diseases. Tomorrow, they will be about novelty.

For now designer babies are about diseases. Tomorrow, they will be about novelty.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
2/26/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: designer babies, FDA, ethics


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Food and Drug Administration is evaluating whether to grant researchers from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland permission to carry out a procedure that would create a "designer baby" using genes from three parents. The baby would be resistant to certain genetic diseases, the researchers claim.

The FDA is meeting with scientists and other experts to determine if the procedure is safe enough to use in people. Scientists have already succeeded in carrying out the procedure in monkeys.

Unfortunately, the discussion is purely about the safety of the procedure from a secular, scientific perspective, and it does not weigh the ethics of the practice.

The FDA is asking the panel to evaluate the risks to the mother and child as well as how future studies could be performed using the procedure. What uses will the procedure have in the future?

The procedure can be conducted both before and after the moment of conception.

The procedure is intended to reduce the incidence of genetic diseases which can be passed from mother to child via their mitochondrial DNA. It also eliminates disease passed on in nuclear DNA, half of which comes from the father. About 1 in 4,000 people suffer from such diseases according to the National Institutes of Health.

In 2009, the procedure was performed on monkeys, which were born healthy and have done just fine. The procedure was then tested on fertilized human eggs -that is to say embryonic children. However, FDA rules prevented the implantation of the eggs into women, so the development of those lives was ended.

Worldwide other children have been born with transplanted DNA since 1997. About 30 such children live today. Some scientists say the wellness and well-being of those children should be evaluated prior to greenlighting this procedure in the United States.

Unfortunately, the procedure raises a lot of ethical questions which remain unanswered. Just because a procedure is safe, from a secular, medical standpoint, does not meant that it is ethical. It must be considered that humans were not designed to have more than two genetic parents, and there are concerns about fertility procedures, the creation of life in a laboratory, and its subsequent destruction.

A go ahead decision from the FDA could eventually become an okay to manufacture true designer babies with custom traits, such as high IQ, specifically colored eyes and hair, and sex.

It should be remembered that the practice of splicing genes, altering genomes, and treating the unborn as genetic donors and living experiments, is hardly ethical from the perspective of Faith and the Natural Law. Catholics are hardly Luddites, and there is great power in medicine, but our practices must be ethical.

Above all, we must respect all life from the moment of conception to the hour of natural death. The embryonic person must be recognized as a whole person, a life which has the right to be and is manufactured by God, the Creator who endows it with a soul.

In fact, this line of argumentation barely scratches the surface of the ethical debate. Unfortunately, the FDA may be preparing to rule already and the public will have little knowledge, or warning, before a final decision is made with terrible moral consequences.

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