The idea of using genetic editing techniques to modify its DNA before the baby was born has been controversial for years. According to the US Fun Science website, a recent poll showed that most people support the use of genetic editing technology to treat serious genetic diseases in infants or to avoid similar risks, but believe that using this technology to improve the intelligence of future generations “goes too far “.
A survey of 2,537 American adults conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 76% of people believe that changing the genetic characteristics of unborn fetuses is a proper application of medical technology to treat serious illnesses that may occur in the birth of a baby; 60% Support the use of genetic editing techniques to reduce the risk of serious illness in an infant’s life. As for using this technology to make babies smarter, only 19% think it is appropriate, and 80% of respondents believe that this will make this technology too far.
With the development of technology, genetic editing of infants is getting closer to reality. CRISPR technology enables scientists to precisely cut and insert DNA fragments. In 2017, American scientists announced that they used CRISPR to edit genes in human embryos to correct mutations that cause heart defects.
Despite this, there are still many safety and ethical issues in the editing of the human genome that remain to be explored. According to the New York Times, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not allow clinical trials involving editing lines or genetic alterations.
The survey also showed that 65% of people oppose testing genetic editing techniques on human embryos; only 33% believe that it is appropriate to test this technique on human embryos in order to develop gene editing techniques.
In addition, nearly 60% believe that genetic editing is “very likely” to cause inequality, because the technology is only affordable for the rich; 54% said, “although in some cases, the use of genetic editing techniques is reasonable. However, some aspects are morally unacceptable; only 18% of respondents said that the development of genetic editing technology is likely to “pave the way for medical advancement in society as a whole”.