Are Your Genetics Set in Stone?

Your DNA holds genes that could possibly be edited out. Image by:

Scarlett LaBuda, Co-Copy Editor

Imagine you find out your child has a life changing disease. This disease will cause them to go about life in a different manner, you’re crushed. But, there’s a solution, you can use KRISPR to modify their genetics and get rid of this disease. At first, this sounds great, but is it ethical?


Most people say no, genetically modifying babies isn’t ethical. The line isn’t clearly drawn for where we should stop modifying children. According to the University of California Jennifer Doudna said, “It was inappropriate on so many levels.” 


When you genetically modify a baby you are quite possibly harming the baby. Scientist He Jiankui, the scientist who conducted the experiment on twin baby girls, didn’t think too far into that. Not only did he violate Chinese regulations, he also slanted the regulatory paperwork that went along with the experiment. 


Doudna said, “Many scientists faulted He for a lack of transparency and the seemingly cavalier nature in which he embarked on such a landmark, and potentially risky, project.”


Science Magazine said, “Because the modification was made to early stage embryos the trait may pass down through the girls’ descendants.”


What that quote is saying, in simplified terms, is that even though the gene for HIV is no longer in the girls they can pass it down to their children and even grandchildren. 


While some people disagree with genetically modifying babies, others think it could be quite beneficial. 


Dr. Kevin Smith said, “If such negative attitudes to biomedical innovation had prevailed in the 1970s, the development and use of IVF- a massively beneficial medical technology- would have been severely delayed, and indeed might never have come to fruition.”


BBC News also says, “Dr. Smith said research in this area would offer hope to parents at risk of transmitting serious genetic disease to their future children.”


Although this sounds like it could be a good thing, there still isn’t enough scientific study to back up that it is beneficial. Genetically modifying babies may end up being a thing of the future, but for now it can’t become the new medical breakthrough.