“Designer babies” refer to potential babies whose traits¹ have been manipulated using technology. This a potential outcome that is feared by the Center for Genetics and Society, a public affairs organization whose goal is to implement responsible science. Executive director Marcy Dovnosky believes that mitochondrial replacement could lead to “venturing into human experimentation.” As mentioned before, mitochondria have their own DNA, which means that they are responsible for certain traits. Thus, replacing the mitochondria of embryos is essentially changing their genetic material. Mitochondrial transfer could then open the flood of gates to issues such as designer babies. They believe that both of these procedures boil down to one fundamental concept: DNA manipulation. If creating designer babies is allowed, then the threat of eugenics could be looming…
Proponents of mitochondrial transfer think otherwise. They believe that mitochondrial replacement is the best possible cure for inheritable mitochondrial disease. In addition, this procedure will be done to cure a debilitating (and potentially fatal) disease, rather than choose a child’s eye or hair color. Furthermore, fertility experts, such as Dr. Alan Copperman of Mount Sinai Hospital, assure that mitochondrial disease is not a case of designer babies. Instead, the media is just playing it as such. This was observed in a recent CNN interview.
Have you considered:
¹traits – physical traits, gene expression levels, protein production, etc.