Friday, January 09, 2009

It's the End of the World

I keed, I keed. We're just a little closer to being genetically engineered and/or taken over by robots. According to this news article, the first genetically selected baby was born in the UK. The human (maybe she's not human, gasp!) was selected to not have the faulty genes that MAY lead to breast cancer. That's different from being genetically-engineered. At least from what I understand, the embryos were not altered to have a specific code. Instead, the science folks took a chance in growing several embryos and checked to see which embryo did not have the genes that would predispose the individual to having breast cancer. I also imagine that the other embryos were "discarded". Yeah, they weren't good enough. Obviously, if an individual may have the possibility of developing cancer, they don't deserve to live.

I'm writing this off the top of my head and I'm surprised at how disturbed I am about the possibility that this may be used in the future. Sure, there other ways of screening or selecting. For example, some Jewish families have matchmakers who search through the genes of individuals to see if their becoming a couple and procreating would lead to a child who had some hereditary disease that predominantly occurs in the Jewish race. No embryos are made and screened in the process.

It's one thing to make embryos for science, which I'm still iffy about, but it's another to screen and then let the rest die or whatever. It's like going to an orphanage with all the kiddies lined up and then choosing the one you like the best. Shouldn't some things be left up to luck or fate? This is not even a religious issue. What's to prevent the screening of other "diseases". Yes, cancer is a disease, but what about being something like screening for genes predisposing one to being short? Alcoholic? Gay?

This is a very slippery slope. This individual who was born doesn't even have a zero percent chance of getting breast cancer. According to the article, "faulty genes are responsible for between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the 44,000 cases of breast cancer that occur in the UK each year". This means that 90% or more are cases where the gene has no affect at all. (I'm lazy and am not looking up if this is actually true, I'm just basing this on mathematics and reading comprehension of the article). This girl could have been born normally and been perfectly fine. Also, early detection could give her a healthy life if she did get breast cancer.

I don't know. This is some scary stuff. I can't imagine rejecting embryos while keeping some. To me, that's life. This is life. You take what you got and make the best of it. You can't make it perfect, but you can still enjoy what you get from it even if it's a daughter with a chance to have breast cancer.

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