Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor

August 19, 2012
Human_fetus_10_weeks_with_amniotic_sac

Human fetus (credit: drsuparna/Wikimedia Commons)

Genetically screening our offspring to make them better people is just ‘responsible parenting’, claims an eminent Oxford academic, The Telegraph reports.

Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a “moral obligation” as it makes them grow up into “ethically better children”.

He said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “harm themselves and others”.

He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality — with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.

In the end, he said, “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.

“Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children. ”They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others.”

He said that we already routinely screen embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome and couples can test embryos for inherited bowel and breast cancer genes. Rational design is just a natural extension of this, he said.

He said that unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.