aNewDomain — Human cloning is so 2011.
Chinese scientists have announced that they attempted to create “designer babies” — children whose DNA was manipulated to reduce their chances of getting a disease, or to enhance genetic traits deemed desirable.
Here, I’ll say it: Chinese menu babies! Pick two genes from Column A and one from Column B.
It didn’t work. All 85 of the human embryos upon which the “Crispr” — stands for “Crisper,” minus an “e” — experiment was conducted “either died or the [targeted] gene was not altered,” according to the New York Times.
“Some of the embryo cells overrode the editing, resulting in embryos that were genetic mosaics,” it continues. “And speckled over their DNA was a sort of collateral damage — DNA mutations caused by the editing attempt.”
David Cronenberg, if you’re reading this, my agent has a treatment for you.
The Times continues: “But some researchers worry that this paper is just an initial sally and that attempts will continue.”
To which I reply: Big fat, like, duh.
And so what? Technology isn’t good or bad; it’s neutral. The effects of technology depend on what you do with it.
Or drones. They can be used to kill Muslim people. Or to deliver boxes full of consumer goods, some of which will collide into each other, killing random people, only some of whom are Muslim.
Anyway, you get what I’m saying.
If you don’t, here’s what I’m getting at: If genetic manipulation can be perfected to the gold standard of quality to which the U.S. government holds corporations — pretty good, works most of the time — it could be really cool.
If I could travel forward in time to 2017 when designer baby technology will be widely available in China, and travel physically to China, and then back to America, and then back to 1963 when my dad knocked up my mom, I’d definitely suggest a few modifications to my DNA.
Not the tall white male part. That’s working for me.
But I could totally lose the asthma. If that’s genetic.
I could also use some work on the gene that makes it so that, even if I bench press hundreds of pounds every day for years, I will never, ever get a six-pack. That gene is totally unfair.
Don’t need the girly hips. Somewhere out there, there’s some girl with my rightful hips who was born the same year. Actually, I know her. She’s in Ohio. As a lesbian, she could very much use my girly hips, as I could use her manly ones.
Gene swap, anyone?
I also need to edit out the gene that makes it so when I’m working, or tired, or trying to remember Dead Kennedys song lyrics, I don’t notice when people are talking to me. I bleed too much when I cut myself; Speaking of that, I cut myself because I’m blessed with a double dose of clumsiness genetic markers. Not bragging here, really I’m not, but I’m really tired of thinking about sex all the time. Most of my friends don’t even have sex, much less think about it, or they think once a week is great, just great, and I think they’re lucky, not pathetic.
I have work to do, dammit, so let’s edit down the hornitude gene.
No way, no how is something as potentially game-changing — okay, lucrative — as genetic editing designer babies going to be ethicked, or government regulated, out of existence. It’s happening, it’s going to keep happening, it’s going to be huge.
Attention mad Chinese scientists: If you are reading this and you’re in the market for a mature 629-month-old embryo to genetically manipulate, drop me a Chinese equivalent of Twitter DM or whatever.
If something this weird is going to happen, no matter what anyone thinks, I want in.
Cover image: “03JAN2011 008” by René Moutouh – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Inside image: “Lebensfreude pur !” by Sigrid Pfeiffer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.