Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies

Next Debate Previous Debate
BabiesDebateDetails

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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?

  • Sheldon-Krimsky90x90

    For

    Sheldon Krimsky

    Professor, Tufts University and Chair, Council for Responsible Genetics

  • Robert-Winston90x90

    For

    Lord Robert Winston

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

  • Nita-Farahany90x90

    Against

    Nita Farahany

    Professor of Law and Philosophy and Professor of Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University

  • Lee-Silver90x90

    Against

    Lee SIlver

    Professor, Princeton University and Author


    • Moderator Image

      MODERATOR

      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

See Results See Full Debate Video Purchase DVD

Read Transcript

Listen to the edited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the unedited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Subscribe to the Podcast
Sheldon-Krimsky90x90

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 in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University. He is also an Adjunct Professor in Public Health and Family Medicine in the School of Medicine at Tufts University and a Visiting Professor at Brooklyn College. Krimsky's research has focused on the linkages between science/technology, ethics/values and public policy. 

Learn More

Robert-Winston90x90

For The Motion

Lord Robert Winston

Professor of Science and 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 the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology on transgenic technology in animal models, with a long-term aim of improving human transplantation. His research led to the development of gynecological microsurgery in the 1970s and various improvements in reproductive medicine, subsequently adopted internationally, particularly in the field of endocrinology and IVF.  

Learn More

Nita-Farahany90x90

Against The Motion

Nita Farahany

Professor of Law and Philosophy and Professor of Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University

Nita A. Farahany is a leading scholar on the ethical, legal, and social implications of biosciences and emerging technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience and behavioral genetics. She holds a joint appointment as Professor of Law at Duke Law and Professor at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and continues to serve as a member.

Learn More

Lee-Silver90x90

Against The Motion

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, a personal genome company that helps people interpret their genetic information to reduce the risk of heritable disease in the next generation. Professor Silver holds a doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University.  He is an elected lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recipient of a National Institutes of Health MERIT award for outstanding research in genetics. 

Learn More

Declared Winner: Against The Motion

Online Voting

Voting Breakdown:
 

Tracking the voting patterns of audience members who voted in both the pre- and post-debate votes, the breakdown is as follows: 42% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (18% voted FOR twice, 20% voted AGAINST twice, 4% voted UNDECIDED twice). 58% changed their minds (4.5% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 4% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 4.5% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 3% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 19% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 23% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic

About This Event

Event Photos

PrevNext Arrows
    PrevNext Arrows

    24 comments

    • Comment Link Anslie Abraham Saturday, 16 February 2013 12:07 posted by Anslie Abraham

      If Joseph and Mary were to decide to genetically engineer the baby Jesus, Jesus would not have been born Jesus the way we know him. God’s will and plan for the world could not have been carried out and God would have been a failure.
      Gandhi would not have been Gandhi, nor would Dr. Martin Luther King Junior would have been what he was.
      The future of the world now seems very unstable unless we recognize our limitations and think twice before we try to scientifically change the natural world.

    • Comment Link Tom Thursday, 14 February 2013 16:42 posted by Tom

      I would have liked to see a 2nd vote only by those with an exposure to basic genetics and or evolution. I suspect the motion would have carried in that sample.

    • Comment Link Marcy Darnovsky Wednesday, 13 February 2013 20:08 posted by Marcy Darnovsky

      The speaker who claims that other countries have "done this already" is mistaken.

      "Genetically engineered babies" in the common sense of that term - ie enhanced "designer babies" - has been prohibited in some three dozen countries worldwide. This includes most European countries, Canada, Australia, etc.

      As for mitochondrial replacement, the UK has not approved it nor are they "doing it" - they are currently studying it and considering it.

    • Comment Link Jeanne Wednesday, 13 February 2013 19:37 posted by Jeanne

      Where is God in all of this?
      Never mind 'mother nature'...
      What about what Father God has to say in all of this!
      It will be too bad if we don't even consider this very important part of the debate!

    • Comment Link LaToya Wednesday, 13 February 2013 19:09 posted by LaToya

      Thank you PETE DOMINICK for talking about this debate and this site on your show this morning!!

    • Comment Link Agil Wednesday, 13 February 2013 07:32 posted by Agil

      i am with the motion!

    • Comment Link michel Tuesday, 12 February 2013 07:05 posted by michel

      GO GENETICS GO!

    • Comment Link Lily Saturday, 09 February 2013 21:12 posted by Lily

      Would Steve Hawking have been born if his parents could choose otherwise?

    • Comment Link P Saturday, 09 February 2013 20:14 posted by P

      The question is should we have "unfettered access" to this technology. I think the technology will benefit the world greatly, but it must be controlled (regulated).

      I have very little faith in business, in that, it will not regulate itself before society demands it. I believe businesses will always choose profit over the well being of the community it serves. Of course businesses will correct itself when society demands change, but until then, the people are just a means to an end (their bottom line).

    • Comment Link T Wednesday, 06 February 2013 10:58 posted by T

      The genie is already out of the bottle. There are enough diseases beginning with diabetes that genetic tinkering might fix that few would argue against it. The problem is that we can't look into a crystal ball and see all the unintended consequences. Extending and saving lives will contribute to overpopulation, increase demand for food and water in a world of limited resources. Not to worry though, nature has its way of controlling her balance. I discovered, as a child, that you can only put so many rats in a box before they eat each other and balance is restored.

    • Comment Link janille Tuesday, 05 February 2013 14:38 posted by janille

      I am reminded of the movie Jurassic Park and this (rough) quote: "We were so busy trying to see if we could do it we didn't stop to think if we should." Human nature being what it is, the concept of 'designer babies' for the rich, even genetic disease cures (still only for the rich) will be taken too far and we will suffer the consequences of it in the long term.

    • Comment Link greg Thursday, 31 January 2013 21:23 posted by greg

      Genetically modified to change nature..
      Sure, why not? after all we live in, "A Brave New World"

    • Comment Link Jake Tuesday, 29 January 2013 03:15 posted by Jake

      I think it is necessary to differentiate between using genetic engineering to cure a known genetic disease, and using genetic engineering simply to try and "improve" people. The reason for this is that while our knowledge of the the human genome and its workings has grown exponentially over the past decade or so, we are far from completely understanding how we work. the potential for causing children to be born with horrible genetic defects is great enough that there appears to be little justification for taking that risk simply to fulfill the whims of parents.
      In a society that has enacted strict laws regarding the care and ethical treatment of lab animals, laws based upon the idea that experimentation on animals must be limited to cases of great necessity for research, it seems strange that we would have no problem performing these sort of experiments on a human baby, simply to fulfill his or her parents desires.
      In the cases of serious monogenetic diseases, where the genetic mutation is known and easy to correct, I see no difference between genetic engineering and conventional medicine, each one having its own advantages and disadvantages.

    • Comment Link hilary Friday, 25 January 2013 08:49 posted by hilary

      How sad it would be if we all were the same looking and thinking? H.

    Leave a comment

    Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.