Scientists Unwisely Play Role of 'God'

The revolutionary new fertility procedure conceived by New Jersey scientists that spawned the birth of the world’s first 15 genetically modified babies is a frightening example of the lengths to which science will go to achieve the miracle of birth.

The technique seems like something from an episode of the “”X-Files.”” Doctors take an egg from an infertile woman, an egg from a donor woman and sperm from the infertile woman’s mate. The doctors suck out the cytoplasm of the donor egg with a microscopic needle. The cytoplasm is then injected into the infertile woman’s egg, along with the sperm, to fertilize it.

The doctors believe the procedure helps women who are unable to conceive because of defects in their eggs. These doctors now have 15 babies to put up on their pedestal of scientific marvels.

But the controversy doesn’t end there. The new fertility treatment creates one child who has DNA from two biological mothers. How is this possible? According to Dr. Jacques Cohen, scientific director of assisted reproduction at the institute that produced the embryos, the method can introduce mitochondrial DNA from the female donor’s egg into the mix of genetic material from the mother and father. The institute took blood tests and confirmed that two of the 15 babies produced at the institute were carrying genetic material from the birth mother, the father and the woman who donated an egg. While this treatment is a blessing and a miracle for those infertile couples, it warrants a look at the proven and potential consequences.

The most glaring concern expressed by many dissidents is that the procedure is unethical because it leaves a child with three biological parents.

Cohen responded to these criticisms in an interview with Reuters, saying, “”I don’t think this is wrong at all. And I think we have to look at the positive part here. I think this did work. These babies wouldn’t have been born if we wouldn’t have done this.””

Cohen’s answer to the critics of the controversial procedure is quite telling and rather surprising. Like a seasoned politician, he deftly side-stepped addressing the critics’ concerns and steamrolled to his mantra: “”Look at the positive part here … this did work.””

The response that “”this did work”” as an excuse for the risky procedure is completely arrogant and reckless, for it reveals the doctor’s belief that achieving the end result is all that matters. It is obvious that the doctors had no concern for the fact that they were experimenting with real babies.

Cohen’s choice to duck those valid concerns raised by critics begs the question: What are you trying to hide?

The statement that “”these babies wouldn’t have been born if we wouldn’t have done this”” is shocking. Do the ends justify whatever the means may be? The big picture and ramifications for the future are more important than having those babies at any cost.

Cohen is so shortsighted that he doesn’t see what he has created with these genetically modified babies. The tri-genetic code will be passed down to future generations. Though the consequences of playing with and modifying the genetic code of these babies and their future babies are not yet known, it is obvious that the doctors have derailed the course of nature.

Who’s to say what the future consequences are for such genetic modification via this fertility procedure? While the world waits for the answer, other doctors in the United States continue to experiment and create genetically modified babies.

However, the concerns about this procedure and the unknown costs are so strong that Britain has banned the fertility procedure.

Britain’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has not licensed researchers to use the technique, on the basis that it does not have a proven safety record and could let in germline genetic modification, which would allow for the introduction of deliberate genetic changes into human embryos — the changes that will be inherited by their offspring when they are conceived.

Many people view germline engineering as a qualitative shift in the history of human intervention in natural processes that may take us an irrevocable step toward self-creation, or self-destruction. Others see such fears as exaggerated, based on scientific misunderstanding or irrational fears.

Since there is no proof yet, any sort of definite conclusion drawn from these two extreme views will be merely guesswork.

How far will science go in the realm of genetic modifications? How much will they tinker and toy with the future of our very humanity?

If the doctors’ objectives are to get the baby born regardless of the consequences, I shudder to think what these scientists have in store for us. Once we allow this new fertility procedure, it will be down the medical ethical slippery slope for us all. Anything and everything will be fair game. Just watch.

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