Hey, there.

Hello, my name is Jo-an. It's spelled Joan, but really it's pronounced as the former. But, by now I react just as much to Joan as I do to my real name, so you can call me by both. You can even call me Jack if you want.

Anyways, this is my Biology blog. You know that course SBI 3U1? Yeah, this blog is made solely for that purpose. Basically, this blog will be used to respond to various topics presented to me throughout the course. I'll try to be as insightful as I can, but forgive me if it doesn't exactly come through on the world wide web. Okay, enough with the formal stuff. To conclude this little reverie of mine, I hope you enjoy this trip through my brain. Well, the Biology section of my brain, anyway.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Designer Babies: Are We Going Too Far?

The term "designer baby" refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with In Vitro Fertilization. This is to ensure presence or absence of particular genes.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the body. IVF is used to help parents struggling with infertility. The IVF process involves controlling the woman's ovulations, removing eggs from the woman's ovaries then letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The eggs are monitored, and the healthy eggs are used while others are discarded. The fertilized egg is then transferred to the woman's uterus to impregnate the woman. 

In Vitro Fertilization
Genetic screening is one of the newest and most sophisticated techniques used to test for genetic disorders.  It involves direct examination of the DNA molecule. Other genetic tests include biochemical tests for gene products like enzymes and for microscopic examination of chromosomes.

These two components joined together make "designer babies".The parents screen potential genetic disorders and such to make their future children free of that. This technology, if used in the medical way, can be a good thing. If the family has a hereditary condition, I think it is okay to "design your baby", so that the child won't suffer.

With these technological advances comes responsibility. Technologies like IVF and genetic tests will keep improving, to the point where "designer babies" are really designer babies. They'll look like they've been designed. Pretty soon, parents will be able to design how their babies look: what kind of eye colour they should have, etcetera. This would be the cosmetic portion of the term "designer baby". This is what I disagree with. I don't think designing your baby's looks right. It is unethical because we shouldn't be able to do that at all. Children should be kept natural.
There are other things that come to mind when I think about IVF and genetic screening. How much would it cost? I would bet on a high price, and that would just create a bigger gap between the wealthy and those in lower classes? Also, humans have not yet experienced the effects of genetic structure alteration that would occur once babies start being "designed". The results could have horrible consequences. It may even damage the gene pool, which would be passed on from the designer baby to its offspring and so on.
To conclude, this technology is amazing, but only when used in the right ways. If used for medical reasons, it can be a great thing because it will be preventing all of the genetically inherited diseases and conditions in offspring. However, when this technology is used for cosmetic purposes, I am against it. I believe that children should look the way they are supposed to, from their original genes. They should look natural, not designed. Using genetic screening for cosmetic use may even damage the gene pool, and people should take into consideration the affects it would have in future generations. In the long run, this technology may do more harm than good.

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