What are designer babies?

The term "designer babies" is used to describe how genetic technologies can be used to choose a child's sex, eye color, hair color, and other characteristics. Also called genetic engineering, engineering a baby opens up many possibilities, as well as ethical dilemmas. It's a controversial topic, and the technologies behind baby design have the potential to alter the human race.

DNA contains the blueprint for the individual characteristics of an organism. The DNA segments that control certain characteristics are called genes. Using certain types of enzymes, scientists have been able to cut out specific genes and use them to create custom DNA strands. These filaments can be inserted into an embryo to alter the genetics of the organism.

Rapid advances in the understanding of human DNA and the ability to modify it have led to the possibility of creating designer babies. Currently, the basic types of genetic screening and alteration are possible. Fertility doctors can already use genetic screening and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to select fertilized embryos based on gender. They may also check genes for certain abnormalities or possible future inherited diseases, such as diabetes or cancer. In some cases, doctors can use IVF and genetic modification to create designer babies using only normal, healthy genes.

Although the potential to use genetic engineering for the good of the human race is an exciting prospect, the technology also has many downsides, according to critics. Opponents of using genetic alteration to create designer babies say it could produce a breed of super children, but only for people who can afford the necessary procedures. This could increase social inequalities. Furthermore, the modifications made to the DNA of designer babies permanently alter the genetics of the child, and those changes are passed on to future generations. Over time, this could irreversibly change the human species.

Most opponents of genetic modification aren't overly concerned about a baby's ability to choose a baby's sex or eye color, but they are concerned that this will lead to more and more genetic interference. Many religious groups oppose the technology, arguing that people should accept the children God gives them. Some countries have banned the use of genetic alterations in humans. Others are trying to make laws that allow certain types of genetic testing and modification related to disease prevention, while making other types of genetic interference illegal.

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