DNA breakthrough means ‘superior’ designer babies could form new social elite, geneticist tells RT

Thursday, August 3, 2017
By Paul Martin

RT.com
3 Aug, 2017

‘Superior’ designer babies born into the upper class with genetically modified physical appearances and intelligence could be just years away, a British geneticist has warned, after scientists announced they had used gene editing to repair a mutation in human embryos.

In a world first, US researchers announced on Wednesday in the science journal Nature they had used the controversial gene editing technique, CRISPR-Cas9, to correct a mutation for a heart condition in embryos.

The technique could eventually let doctors remove inherited conditions from embryos before they go on to become a child. That, in turn, opens up the possibility of diseases like cystic fibrosis and ovarian cancer being wiped out entirely, researchers say.

Although the scientists only edited out mutations that could cause diseases, it modified the nuclear DNA that sits right at the heart of the cell, which also influences personal characteristics such as intelligence, height, facial appearance and eye color.

While many are hailing the research as an exciting breakthrough, Dr David King of Human Genetics Alert in London told RT it could eventually lead to a “eugenics scenario.”

King, who is a geneticist and molecular biologist, says only the upper echelons of society would be able to afford the expensive technology. Many will want to give their children “genetic advantages over other people’s children” and see it as an “investment” to give them “the best start in life,” he says.

“I think that in a world in which some people are regarded as genetically superior to others because they have been genetically enhanced is a radically more unequal and oppressive world than what we have now,” King says.

“I don’t think it’s unrealistic that once you’ve had a few generations of an elite being genetically enhanced and the rest of us not being, then people in the elite will not have any real interest in having children with members of the rest of the population.”

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