The Idea Of Designing Our Babies

from the not-so-far-fetched dept

Gary Brown writes “An illustrated article running at HowStuffWorks shows how within a few decades, there’s a good chance that biotechnology could give us the ability to pre-choose our children’s physical and personality traits like we pick out options on a new car. Companion research has discovered that when the spider gene is inserted into a goat, the goat produces a protein that is identical to that found in spider silk. This protein is extracted from the goat’s milk to produce silk fibers, called BioSteel, which is used to make bulletproof vests.” Anyone else think the idea of “made-to-order” children is a little bit disturbing? It would also give children more active reasons for hating their parents: “Why’d you give me curly hair? I would kill for straight hair!” at which point the parents will regret not giving the child the “laid-back” gene.

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Comments on “The Idea Of Designing Our Babies”

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mhh5 says:

Things to keep in mind...

Although we have the “human genome” in hand, that doesn’t mean we’re ready to design kids. This HowStuffWorks article seems to have missed the whole report about how many fewer genes were found than predicted, implying that the “one gene = one trait” theory isn’t really valid. This deficiency is even seen in the spider silk example since the silk produced “by goats” is not the same as spider silk. While chemically identical, there are microstructural differences.

This is not to say that we won’t be able to do these things. Just that this technology isn’t as close as everyone says. This could be the next “flying cars”…

Russell Miller says:

No Subject Given

In some form, we already do this when we select a mate. I have no problem with other people leaving it to chance, but if I can make my kid smarter, healthier, less disease-prone, handsomer, etc. then I’ll probably do it. However, the end result of some people doing this and some people not doing it is that the genengineered kids will, on average, probably do better at competing in the survival game than their non-engineered counterparts (of course, persistence can make up for a lot, cf. “Gattaca.” So make sure to ask for a persistence gene.)

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