Designer Babies Essay.

Essay by aimzy December 2003

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Genetic engineering is the alteration of genetic code by artificial means, and is therefore different from traditional selective breeding. Genetic engineering has given us the power to alter the very basis of life on earth. It therefore has few limits-except our imagination, and our moral or ethical code. Genetic engineering has the power to change who we are. I am particularly interested in a current concept, specifically choosing genes that may determine favourable characteristics in your unborn child; known as 'designer babies'. Also the ability to choose the exact gender and eliminating disease in the foetus, this is what I will be concentrating on in the essay. Currently, a very small number of fertility specialists are using a type of embryonic analysis known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to help couples who want to have a baby of a specific gender, but also to detect unhealthy embryos.

Embryos that show normal development are biopsied with micromanipulation techniques involving the use of very fine glass needles and tools under microscopic observation and control to obtain sufficient cells (blastomeres) for analysis.

Based on animal experiments as well as 10 years of experience with PGD in humans, including over 200 normal births, it is felt that removal of small numbers of cells is unlikely to affect the continued development of a healthy embryo and foetus. The cells removed from each individual embryo are analyzed by genetic testing using either PCR-based DNA amplification, or fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Those embryos considered to be unaffected on the basis of this testing will then be available to be transferred into the woman's uterus or cryopreserved for future use. But in the future this technology could give parents who are willing to select everything from their babies eye and hair colour to its intelligence level.

This technique...