Viewpoint: We’re perfect the way we are

By on September 6, 2013
ForumOpinion

Genetically enhancing what we eat has become a commonplace practice. We can make our oranges seedless, our bell peppers bigger and more colorful, and our tomatoes resistant to several types of bacteria. We do this by picking and choosing which genes control certain variables and can eliminate or enhance them.

Most people have become accustomed to the practice of genetically modifying fruits and vegetables, but some find the practice unnatural. These people remain loyal to naturally produced food products. Presently, most of our food seems to be filled with chemicals to keep it ripe for a longer time, to prevent diseases from spoiling it, or even to make it look healthy and tasty even if the insides have lost most nutritional value. Hence, it is safe to say that we are living in a world where we “enhance” everything to fit our needs. Everything is supposed to be bigger and better, but are we at a point where genetically enhancing humans is acceptable?

It is clear that our society is not completely open to deformities from the treatment of people with disabilities. One can look at the number of abortions done because the fetus has a genetic disorder. Striving for perfection does not have to be a bad thing, but when it is a disadvantage to those who aren’t normal according to these standards or those who have disabilities, our society becomes a discriminatory hell for those not considered “perfect.”

People of our generation try to achieve perfection by wearing makeup, expensive clothing, and even wigs. Those who can afford it have plastic surgery to eliminate their shortcomings. When it comes to having children, some women who want children of their liking choose sperm donors with the qualities they desire their children to have. As technology is progressing, why will people stop at sperm donors when soon they will be able to pick and choose exactly what genetic traits their potential children will inherit?

Thankfully, science is not yet at a point where we can pick the exact characteristics of our children. Scientists have come to realize that altering a gene can have consequences.

In addition, several genes work together to produce some traits, which means that giving a child green eyes may involve the interaction of several genes, something that will require a lot of experimentation. Because we have not yet approached the point where we can choose traits, we still have time to think about the moral and ethical ramifications of creating these “designer babies.”

Just because we can create a “perfect” species does not mean that we should. The last person who attempted this project was Hitler. Don’t we think of him as one of the most evil people to have ever lived? One may argue that we won’t kill anyone but will aim to create a future generation that is suited to our liking. But once we begin the process, we will fall down a slippery slope to where we will become even more close-minded than we already are. If we denounce those who look and act different from us, how low will we fall when we decide what everyone looks and acts like?

The truth is that perfect is a subjective word. What a perfect baby is for me, may not be a perfect baby for someone else. No matter how hard we try, we cannot make a baby that will be perfect for everyone in the world. We will become competitive and obsessed with outdoing everyone else’s babies, which is also not in the best interest of our future children. They will have pressures on them to live up to what their parents want them to be. Most of us believe that an individual has the right to live his or her life how he or she wishes — within reason, of course.

By producing designer babies, we will steal this right from our children. We will also lose the meaning of having children and a family, and with it, what it means to be human. While at the surface, having designer babies may seem like an ideal reality worth striving for, but the deeper you go, the more you will come to realize that we are fine exactly the way we already are.

Natasha Mehra
Staff Writer
nmehra16@uab.edu

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