Rapid advances in genetic technologies could lead to a form of child “eugenics” and have serious implications for society, a leading fertility expert has warned.
Professor Lord Robert Winston said that current controls will not be able to keep pace, and people could want to modify their children to enhance desirable characteristics.
Last week the fertility watchdog advised the government to allow the creation of three-parent embryos, amid concerns about future genetically modified children. Top scientists and ethicists have warned about the potential to dehumanise and commodify relationships between children and parents.
Professor Winston gave the warning in a lecture at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Beforehand, he told the Scotsman newspaper that would use the lecture to highlight the dangers of “genetic meddling.”
“We may find that people will want to modify their children, enhance their intelligence, their strength and their beauty and all the other so-called desirable characteristics. That is going to become an increasing risk as a market. That will be a form of eugenics which will actually have all sorts of serious implications for developed societies.”
What exactly is human genetic engineering (HGE or HGM)? It’s a simple question with a complex answer.According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), HGM is a process by which scientists and medical professionals alter the genetic makeup, or DNA, in a living human cell. Ideally, HGM would be used to fix defective genes that cause diseases and other genetic complications.