Genetically Engineered Humans and Designer Babies – A Myth or Scientific Fact


Genetic engineering means to alter the genetic code of a human either for the sake of therapeutics termed as gene therapy or to improve a character. Although, it’s just a beginning of the journey, still its practically possible to engineer humans in on way or the other. Knowingly or unknowingly, we have already adopted the human genetic engineering by using strategies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or preimplantation genetic testing to produce embryos that are less likely to have genetic disorders or chromosomal aberrations. 

This is deviating the natural process of sex to produce babies by attracting parents to a safer alternative with 3% lesser risk of genetic abnormalities. Prenatal testing is used to pre-diagnose the genetic abnormalities that often leads to the decision of pregnancy termination. According to news, two girls are born in China with their genetic characters being altered which was done at the embryo stage before implantation. Stem cell technology can be used to increase a large number of eggs by the female partner and then sequencing may be done to select the embryo with most suitable features. Precise genetic modifications can be made through precise techniques like CRISPR-Cas.

The development in the field of genetic engineering has given birth to some concepts that would appear to be a sci-fi otherwise. The concept of “Super-humans” and “Designer babies”. Super humans refer to the development on human with desired characteristics in terms of intelligence, looks or delayed aging etc. It has always been a dream of humanity to enhance the quality and span of life. 

The longest lived man being 122 years old but with the wonders of genetic engineering it is fairly possible to switch off and switch on some genes that control the process of aging which possibly can result in the evolution of super humans. Similarly, the concept of designer babies depict that the parents would be able to decide what characters they would like to have in their baby and what should be eliminated. It is fairly possible to play with the DNA sequence and create something unique out of it, a concept known as DNA hacking. Similar to IT industry, the modification in coding will result in different outcomes.

The development in the field is both a blessing and threat for humanity. It has raised several questions in terms of ethics and human rights. It is equal to altering the track of nature that has been in power from last millions of years. 

How will we ensure equality among humanity?

 What if not all of us could afford the technology as it is too expensive? 

What will be the future of the concept of humanity? 

These are some of the questions that are not even answerable by those who support the concept. Although, the practical implementation of genetically engineering humans is not allowed yet but it’s fairly possible and some scientists have even claimed to have done this (as mentioned the birth of Chinese girls).  Jamie Metzl, an expert of the field, has named it as “Hacking Darwin” in his book. This is certainly in opposition to the Darwin’s concept of natural selection and random mutation by making the process more selective rather than natural. One thing is for sure that the future is unpredictable and we might be able to see the real spiderman or superman entering the real world out of fantasy.