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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about the three parent embryo?

Asked by JLeslie (47233 points ) February 27th, 2014

The FDA is looking at research that would put the genes of two mothers in an embryo to correct genetic problems. What do you think about this possibility? Should science be allowed to do this? Here is an article about it. It could be used to replace defective or undesirable genes that cause disease. Some people have a concern it could lead to so called designer babies.

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21 Answers

Seek's avatar

Let people do what they want to do. If they want designer babies, and they can afford it, who cares?

As long as no one is legislating a requirement for all new babies to be genetically altered, I’m good.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I have mixed feelings. If it can prevent horrible disease then i’m all for it. I people just want a designed baby then not at all

hominid's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: “If people just want a designed baby then not at all.”

Could you elaborate? What are you main concerns here?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Ignoring any moral questions, this would seem to cause all sorts of legal problems:

Divorce – would the third party have any custody claim?
Birth certificates: how would the parent(s) be listed?
Family trees would need a third dimension
Laws against incest and family impregnation – more risk of family issues
Death, wills, estates, next of kin – would the kid inherit from all three parents?

this needs a whole new body of law.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@hominid I don’t want to live in a Gattaca type world.

Seek's avatar

@elbanditoroso Assuming they use donor eggs, there is a system already in place for the legal issues.

hominid's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – I have seen that movie, and it certainly deals with a number of potential issues. I’m not sure “Gattaca” answers it exactly. But assuming you are concerned with issues surrounding social class and DNA, how do you feel we should proceed here? Since you support it when it comes to preventing disease, what type of restrictions would you feel would be necessary?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

That is a very hard question to answer I really can’t draw any fine lines there. This is the main reason I have such mixed feelings. Genetics is going to be a huge issue in the future and I feel like there is great potential for improved health and quality of life. There is also potential for a new class based on genes. I think it is probably enevitable because once it starts happening people will basically have little choice but to jump on the bandwagon. The consequences could be so dramatic and far reaching that it is almost impossible to know where the lines need to be drawn until we cross them. Once we do there may not be any going back.

PhiNotPi's avatar

This procedure only transfers the mitochondrial DNA from a donor woman. This is of major significance, because mitochondrial DNA is located in the mitochondria as opposed to the nucleus. It is also primarily used by the mitochondria. It has only 37 genes (out of the estimated 25,000 in the total genome).

Personally, I would not even consider this as having a third parent.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

If that is the actual procedure then I don’t see any problems. I think a discussion of the larger issue is past due. Forget robotics, genetics is probably going to be the modern equivalent to the information revolution.

hominid's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – I agree with you that there are many complex issues related to any genetic modification. But I don’t think this is anything we can or should stop. And I’m only concerned about class issues and DNA because I already have concerns about class today. We can imagine many of the problems that genetic engineering could cause because of the problems we already have.

But I am convinced that there are advantages to allowing the science to go where the science goes. My father has Parkinson’s and my sister has MS. I am interested in medicine and research going as far as it can. But I do think we should work on the ethical issues surrounding this future technology now. It is coming, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Cruiser's avatar

I am glad I will be dead and and gone when this designer baby thing get’s out of hand and a race of super humans is created and ordinary man is obsolete.

BhacSsylan's avatar

So, this is kind of overblown. As @PhiNotPi mentioned, this is not major, or really ‘genetic engineering’ by any stretch. They’re not editing the genome, they’re replacing the mitochondrial genome.

Basically, we all have two genomes: nuclear, and mitochondrial. Both are important, but the nuclear is far more important, and generally what you think of when anyone talks about your ‘genome’. The mitochondria handle energy creation and regulation, certainly important and necessary, but hardly what you think of when talking about ‘designer babies’. And, again, there is no editing, this is a donation. You cannot pick and choose what genes you want, only what donor. While you can go about choosing the ‘best’ donor, it would have far less impact then a sperm or egg donor, which is currently a possibility for minimal fuss. Frankly, this only seems useful in the case they mention, where someone has a major genetic disease from the mitochondrial genome but would still like to have ‘their own’ children.

And this is all kind of moot, as a lot of the debate is whether it’s even to the stage of talking about yet, and it seems like it’s not.

Also, how they decided a rep from the Family Research Council should ever be taken seriously I have no idea. Even if they were a legit group, they already oppose IVF, which this would require. It would be like asking a Muslim if they’d like bacon.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

This will be opening Pandora’s box. Like Cruiser just posted, I also am glad I am of the age that I don’t have to live thru the world of the future. I worry for my little grandchildren and what they will have to deal with.

bea2345's avatar

There was a scientist who developed a tomato of the right shape and size to fit in a tin (cylindrical rather than globular). Unfortunately it tasted horrible. As the information came from the Awake! magazine, the accuracy of the report may be doubtful. I guess that at least the researcher learned something from the exercise.

It is not that we should not try to change things to suit ourselves, but that we should know that the natural world usually has the last laugh (think about swine flu, mad cow disease, global warming, the “dust bowl” phenomenon and so on.) Your designer baby could have every good trait and then turn out to be a psychopath, or be allergic to tomatoes.

Juels's avatar

My main concern would be a society where non-modified genetics is undesirable and discriminated against. Like the movie Gattaca. Yes, I know it is only a move, but we’re gearing ourselves in that direction. It could be our reality someday.

Juels's avatar

Ahh… I should have read the other responses first. @ARE_you_kidding_me – I’m with you on this one.

Seek's avatar

Hey, if they get to live their lives without developing Lou Gherig’s Disease, I think they’ll survive without tomatoes.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

AWESOME! I have very good genetic material. My eggs should go for a BUNDLE! Tell them to hurry before I get any older.

ibstubro's avatar

I think designer babies are already here, if only for the rich.

Think about it.

How is it not “survival of the fittest”, reasserting itself?

bea2345's avatar

Maybe I should advertise my genetic material? My forebears came mostly from West Africa (one of the most unhealthy places in the world). Notwithstanding (inherited) risk factors for cancer and diabetes, I had a caesarian baby with an apgar score of 8. In my country, a high score is a predictor of survivability. My daughter is now in her twenties.

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