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Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies

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Live Transcript
  • We Must Genetically Engineer Babies to Stop Disease

    Clip: Nita Farahany, Professor of Law and Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University, argues that genetically engineering babies is a necessity because it has the possibility curbing the onset of certain diseases.

  • Genetically Engineered Babies Lead to Evil Eugenics

    Clip: Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, argues genetic engineering is a slippery slope that will lead to the return of the evil eugenics practices by the Nazis.

  • “My child has to have my DNA.” Why?

    Clip: Debaters argue the motion "Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies."

  • The Potential Risks of Genetic Intervention

    Clip: Debaters argue the motion "Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies."

Debate Details

Imagine a world free of genetic diseases, where parents control their offspring’s height, eye color and intelligence. The science may be closer than you think. Genes interact in ways that we don’t fully understand and there could be unintended consequences, new diseases that result from our tinkering. But even if the science could be perfected, is it morally wrong? Would it lead to eugenics and a stratified society where only the rich enjoy the benefits of genetic enhancement? Or would the real injustice be depriving our children of every scientifically possible opportunity?

The Debaters

For the motion

Sheldon Krimsky

Professor, Tufts University and Chair, Council for Responsible Genetics

Sheldon Krimsky is the Lenore Stern Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of  Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning... Read More

Lord Robert Winston

Professor of Science & Society and Emeritus Professor, Fertility Studies, Imperial College

Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, runs a research program in... Read More

Against the motion

Nita Farahany

Professor, Duke University & Director, Duke Science & Society

Nita Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of biosciences and emerging technologies, particularly those related... Read More

Lee Silver

Professor, Princeton University and Author

Lee M. Silver is Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Policy at Princeton University. He is also a founder and principal science advisor of GenePeeks... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Unfettered access to genetic engineering for the wealthy will deepen social inequality and create a genetic ruling class.
  • Children should not be science experiments.
  • There are potential, unknown side effects that could not only affect the child, but generations to come.
Against The Motion
  • Genetic engineering can and should be the voluntary choice of parents and will not be a state-mandated program of eugenics.
  • We already enhance our bodies in so many ways, isn't this the natural next step? Shouldn't we be open to the possibility of pushing our limits and improving ourselves?
  • It would be immoral not to give children the best opportunities in life—free of disease, given desirable traits—and to shape a better society.
  • Science and technology requires risk for progress and innovation and we cannot prohibit genetic engineering based on hypotheticals.
  • Genetic engineering would lessen social inequalities once the technology becomes widely available.


  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

About Genetics

December 31, 1969

Background from the Tech Museum on what genes are, how they work, genetic testing, therapies and ethics.

Building Baby From the Genes Up

Ronald Green
April 13, 2008

Knowing more about our genes may actually increase our freedom by helping us understand the biological obstacles -- and opportunities -- we have to work with.

Genetically Modified Humans? No Thanks

Richard Hayes
April 15, 2008

New human genetic technologies have real potential to help prevent or cure many terrible diseases, but these same technologies also have the potential for real harm.

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