Designer Babies

Gene-Edited Kids Can Be Safely Released into the Wild Human Gene Pool

Despite bioethical handwringing, they pose no special risks to future generations

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"The introduction of genetic modifications into future generations could have permanent and possibly harmful effects on the species," a group of prominent bioscience researchers write in Nature. They are calling for a global moratorium on gene-editing human embryos. "These mutations cannot be removed from the gene pool unless all carriers agree to forgo having children, or to use genetic procedures to ensure that they do not transmit the mutation to their children."

The birth last year of twin girls Lulu and Nana, whose genomes had been modified using CRISPR editing by Chinese researcher He Jiankui, is what provoked these researchers and a lot of other commentators into bioethical handwringing. Some of the angst is justified: The technique's safety is unknown and the babies' parents likely were not provided with enough information to give truly informed consent.

The Nature authors are far from alone in their worries about the potential effects of gene-editing on future generations. "DNA changes can pass to future generations, potentially with unforeseen side-effects," worried The Guardian. "Will they be allowed to have children naturally, and pass on their edited genes and whatever potential side effects might arise from their altered DNA?," asked Time. Denouncing gene-editing as "an enormous threat," Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen warned, "In genetic engineering, scientists alter the entire genetic structure of the resulting human being—changes that are then passed on to future generations." Over at bioethics.net, Jon Holmlund asserted, "Risks to later generations, that is, to the descendants of edited people, would be incalculable, and the informed consent of those later generations would be unobtainable."

The last objection about future generations giving informed consent is just ethically nonsensical. No future generation (or individual for that matter) has ever given their consent to be born, much less to be born with the specific complement of genes they carry.

But are the risks of passing along edited genes to future generations really incalculable? No. Considering how natural genetic mutations get passed down to future generations sheds a bright light on just how big a risk to future generations the twins' edited genes are. And it turns out the reproductive risks of edited genes are essentially no different than the risks associated with naturally mutated genes.

In a 2016 Genome Biology article, three European geneticists calculated how many de novo mutations each of us carries. De novo mutations are genetic alterations that appear for the first time in an individual as a result of spontaneous mutations in an egg or sperm cell of one of our parents, or mutations that occurred in the fertilized egg itself during our early embryogenesis. The European researchers calculate that there are "44 to 82 de novo single-nucleotide mutations in the genome of the average individual, with one to two affecting the coding sequence." By pointing out that a couple of mutations affect coding sequence, the researchers mean that the alterations change the operation of specific genes. All of these natural mutations could well be passed down to future generations since they all occurred through fertilization or embryogenesis.

Are the genetic changes in the Chinese twins wrought by He Jiankui especially unusual? He modified the girls' CCR5 gene with goal of blocking HIV infections. Between 5 to 15 percent of people of European descent bear a specific mutated version the CCR5 that also hampers HIV infection. He's modification of the twins' gene is not the same as the mutation found among European carriers, but it would also likely confer resistance to HIV infection. Is He's engineered mutation somehow especially "unnatural?"

To find out, Columbia University biologist Jeremy Berg asked, "Are the mutations carried by the reported CRISPR babies, Lulu and Nana, new in the human population?" His admittedly rough calculations suggest that among the world's 7.6 billion people, "it's not too unlikely that there are individuals out there who carry copies of these mutations." Berg agrees that He's gene-editing is unethical, but concludes that "the natural/unnatural distinction that one might be tempted to make is not particular[ly] relevant." The upshot is that if this gene variant (engineered or natural) doesn't have a big effect on the reproductive success of its carriers, then it is already being passed along to future generations.

Bottom line: All you folks who are parents have already passed along novel mutations to future generations while some other mutations have sporadically occurred when your kids were zygotes. Those mutations will be passed down to their kids and your grandkids and some may turn out to be deleterious (although one hopes not). Obviously, CRISPRed embryos need to be checked before they are implanted to make sure that the desired changes have been made and that no especially harmful off-target mutations have occurred. But after that, gene-edited kids can be released into the wild human gene pool with no special worries about how they might effect future generations.

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  1. Despite bioethical handwringing, they pose no special risks to future generations

    Like you would know.

    1. +1000 That is a perfect example of begging the question. They pose no special risks because we know of no risks seems to be the argument. Well, our not knowing fo the risks doens’t mean they are not there.

      1. Illiterate paranoia is no excuse for fear. These specific edited mutations are nothing special, and minuscule compared to the mutations that every natural human has. You may as well complain that it’s not truthful to say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow — who knows when the damned thing will just turn into a red bloated sun overnight and rise on all 360 degrees before dawn?

        1. Since when is “the violation is really small” viatiate the need to get someone’s consent before altering their body? Never last I looked. Try understanding the argument before you respond. Especiallly if you are going to be a smug dickhead and start throwing out insults.

          1. J: Before you have a body (even just a one-celled zygote), you can’t consent to or refuse anything because you don’t exist. Once you exist, your complement of genes are what they are however they came to be.

            1. Bailey, we consider sleeping with a passed out woman to be rape, because she was not able to give consent. So not being able to give consent is no excuse.

              1. C: She already exists.

            2. Once you exist, your complement of genes are what they are however they came to be.

              So what? That doesn’t give you the ability to change them without my consent. As far as you doing it to the zygote, even if you think a zygote is not a living entity, the effect of your actions still result in a violation of my personal sovereignty. You are just doing it in a more clever way.

              Just because I am going to end up some way, doesn’t give you the right to change that some way and as a result change my body without consent. Again, if it did, you could come in and change my genes right now if you chose to. What is the difference? Sure, I can object but suppose I was in a coma and couldn’t consent. By your logic, you could do about anything to me that you deemd for my own good because hey, nature was going to give me something right?

              1. That doesn’t give you the ability to change them without my consent.

                Your parents should have gotten your consent before conceiving you. How dare they?

                1. Your parents should have gotten your consent before conceiving you. How dare they?

                  As a logical matter, I can’t consent to being born. That fact however doens’t mean my parents do not need my consent to do anything to me. How many times does that need to be pointed out before you people give up on this stupid arguement?

                  1. How about you explain what the difference is before you expect people to justify the difference?

                    1. I do agree, for once: your argument is stupid.

                  2. I presume you’re against vaccinations then? And surely against abortions at any stage of development.

                2. I suppose, then, that vaccinating, clothing, bathing, etc., a child are also violations?

                  1. I’m pretty sure if I had to consent I never would have been vaccinated. I mean, seriously, what child would consent to getting a shot?

                    Also circumcision.

          2. Altering their body? Is that like saying that creating a new human life is a rights violation, because that person didn’t give consent to being conceived?

            1. No its not. And I don’t see how you can think that it is. Your point makes no sense.

              1. That means your point also makes no sense. Hmmmm, do you think that might have been my point?

                1. No. it means I don’t see how your point is responsive or even relates to mine. Why don’t you try and explain it better because your point is not coming accross.

                  1. There is no self to alter before there is a nervous system.

                    1. I responded to that below. If your claim is that pre conception alterations to your genes does not require consent, then it is totally ethical for parents or governments, to alter those genes to make poeple have say a lower IQ or be physically stronger and able to work. If there is no consent needed, then I am totally okay with making you into what amounts to a tool for whatever end I see fit to do. Suppose I was just a nut and decided that I wanted my child deaf, so I genetically engeer them pre conception to be born deaf. Would that be okay? Are you not revolted by that at all? If you are and you should be, why? If there is no consent needed, how could it be wrong?

                      The answer is changing your body into something it wasn’t normally going to be before you are born doesn’t make doing so any less objectionable. It is a false distinction.

                    2. I didn’t say they don’t require consent. They do. Just not the zygote’s consent, but the consent of the parents. In essence, the parents own the zygote. In this Chinese case, the parents gave consent.

                    3. Just not the zygote’s consent, but the consent of the parents.

                      I am the parent. So by your logic I can geneticly engineer my child to be born deaf or in whatever strange way I want. You don’t find that objectionable at all? Really? It all sounds great if you just pretend this technology would only be used for good things. It is only when you consider the negative that the problems become clear.

                    4. Whatever would be child abuse if the child is already born would be morally wrong and should be outlawed. Similar to if parents pierced their child’s eardrum to make him deaf, or gouged their eyes out, etc.

                      To purposely make your child stupid should be illegal, whether before or after they are born. To make them more intelligent should be encouraged, whether by gene editing or by giving them special violin lessons or sending them to good schools.

                    5. I should address the second part. You raise a good point. If some nutty parents wanted to genetically engineer a child with disabilities, should society allow it? The natural intuition is to say no, and I agree. But it is also easy to justify such a ban on libertarian grounds. You are in effect setting up a rights violation for the future. But I gotta think about this some more. Thanks for rising an interesting point.

                    6. But it is also easy to justify such a ban on libertarian grounds. You are in effect setting up a rights violation for the future. But I gotta think about this some more. Thanks for rising an interesting point.

                      That is the thing. It does violate their rights. I would have been born being able to hear but for you screwing with my genes and making me deaf. If that violates my rights, I don’t see how changing my genes to have blue eyes or be smarter doesn’t violate my rights as well. Sure that is a much more benign violation of my rights but it is the same principle.

                      I think if it is saving me from some life or limb harm, it is fair to say that I would consent to the change. That is no different than assuming an unconscious person would consent to a doctor saving their life. But past that, I don’t see how you can just assume consent or worse think it is not necessary.

                    7. But don’t you see the difference? One modification (to make them resistant to HIV) is helping them, while making them deaf is clearly hurting them. Isn’t it black letter law that if you are unresponsive and need medical care, that you are assumed to give consent in the absence of other evidence (e.g., a DNR order)? Same principles could be applied to genetically engineering your offspring. If the modification is seen to be clearly beneficial, it can be assumed the person will have given consent if given the choice.

                    8. But don’t you see the difference? One modification (to make them resistant to HIV) is helping them, while making them deaf is clearly hurting them.

                      Why does it matter that one is helping them and the other is hurting them? It matters because you assume they would want the help and would consent to it if they could and would not consent to being harmed. And that is admitting that consent matters in these cases.

                      HIV resistence is a close call. It is not life or limb but it is something is maybe good enough that we can assume anyone would consent to such a change if they were able. But, when you get past things like that, I dont’ see how you can ethically do it. It is not obvious that someone would consent to having the preferred eye color of their parents or being tall rather than short or being athletic or whatever. I don’t think you can assume consent in those cases.

                    9. I know that it is late, but the way to address this tension is by considering the parents as trust-holders for the child’s rights. As creators of the children, they are the natural owner of that trust, but that doesn’t mean they have carte blanch allowance to do whatever they want for the child. As with any trust, they have a duty to operate in the best interests of the child, to the best of their abilities.

                      As was noted below, it is rarely a black and white decision. Instead, they are making tradeoffs and parents should not be expected to follow a single template for child raising. The benefit of the doubt should be given to them, unless their conduct is so egregious as to be criminally negligent. Intentionally saddling the child with disabilities would easily meet that standard, and I would argue that subjecting the child to unproven medical experiments also meets that standard- and thus the doctor and parent in the Chinese case were beyond the pale.

                      OTOH, a parent who chooses unproven procedures as a last resort for a known disease would probably be in the right, and that is likely how the science would ethically advance.

                    10. Then would you think it’s a “close call” if parents pierced their kids eardrums after they were born? After all, there may be some nutty parents who would do it.

                    11. “But don’t you see the difference? One modification (to make them resistant to HIV) is helping them, while making them deaf is clearly hurting them.”

                      1. I thought libertarians were against central planning. It’s not The State or some bureaucracy doing the planning here (yet…), but parents and doctor(s) are still very consciously, and central to that group, planning.
                      2. HIV resistance sounds good, but as we see with malaria resistance and sickle cell trait, such things are not wholly good or wholly bad. There are trade offs to anything, and not presently knowing the side effects or trade off to something doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
                      3. Suppose I want my son to be a dominant athlete: well, having 4 arms or a tail could help in lots of sports, or we could even use animal genes, like a cheetah’s, to make a better athlete. If those wouldn’t be “clearly beneficial”, you’ll have to draw a line somewhere.

                    12. 4. Going back to #2, most people would agree that being more intelligent is a benefit. But is that so? Many highly intelligent people regret, at least at times, that capacity. Intelligent people are more prone toward depression. Again, where’s the line?
                      4b. Intelligence level can be, and probably is, correlated with other aspects of physiology. To assume that humans, even the Science, are “better” at design than nature is hubris. I don’t want to go down the “as god/nature intended” route, but I won’t throw it away. Man is fallible. Nature, by definition, is not – though it may be less than ideal…

                    13. Sorry, didn’t read your whole comment. You addressed part of what I said. I think we are just going after a different standard. Yours is saving your from life and limb, while mine is any obvious beneficial change.

                      I suppose the law is probably more on your side in this. If you are in a car accident that brakes some facial bones, is the doctor allowed to correct your deviated septum while he is in there? Probably not, but probably more for a billing reason.

                    14. The car accident is a great example. Suppose you have the nose from hell. Can the doctor fix that for you as he is doing surgury to fix your broken jaw and cheek bone? Heck no he can’t. Maybe you like having a big nose. Maybe it is your family marker that you are proud of. Who knows. He can’t assume consent to that.

                    15. Let’s take a relatively neutral modification, like eye color. Is it a rights violation to design a baby’s eye color? I don’t think so, because there is no demonstrable harm that would arise from that. Otherwise, you could claim all sorts of things as being potential rights violations, such as having three kids and causing the middle one to have “middle child syndrome.” Or suppose there is some statistic that says kids born in December are more likely to have some health problem. Would it then be a rights violation for parents to conceive in such a time frame as to have a December baby? I mean there would be no end to this, so it is not a good standard.

                    16. Let’s take a relatively neutral modification, like eye color. Is it a rights violation to design a baby’s eye color? I don’t think so, because there is no demonstrable harm that would arise from that.

                      There is no demonstratable harm from the doctor giving you a nose job or fixing that deviated septum without your consent. The harm is doing it without your consent. Maybe you don’t want blue eyes. Think about being a child growing up knowing that your parents made you in whatever their ideal image was. I think it is hardly certain or even likely that once a child is old enough to understand and consent to such a thing they would automatically see it as a good thing.

                    17. There is no demonstratable harm from the doctor giving you a nose job or fixing that deviated septum without your consent.

                      Yes there is. He is literally cutting into your nose. You will have several weeks of recovery time during which you will be in pain.

                    18. Lest you think this is hypothetical speculation:

                      In a 2012 study, a group of researchers at Queen Mary University in London investigated whether the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression increased depending on one’s birth month. These researchers looked at more than 29 million people from England’s general population, 58,000 of whom were diagnosed with one of these three conditions.

                      Winter babies were at the greatest risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with January being the most common birth month for this group. Spring babies, meanwhile, appeared to be at greatest risk for depression, which demonstrated an almost significant peak in May.

                    19. Okay, this study is prejudiced against Capricorns.

          3. Altering their body? Is that like saying that creating a new human life is a rights violation, because that person didn’t give consent to being conceived?

  2. The last objection about future generations giving informed consent is just ethically nonsensical. No future generation (or individual for that matter) has ever given their consent to be born, much less to be born with the specific complement of genes they carry.

    I never consented to having the color of hair I do. That fact, however, doesn’t give you the right to change my hair color without my consent. Saying “nature would make you something, therefore it is okay for human beings to change that without your consent” is a complete non squiter.

    Think about where that argument leads. If it is okay to gene edit kids without their consent, then isn’t okay to say make them less intelligent and stronger physically and easier to control? What about that? The logic of your argument applies just as well to that situation as it does to gene editing them to be smarter or “better” in our eyes.

    1. Your hair color was “chosen” before you even existed. Suppose your parents had edited your genes to have blond hair, you didn’t consent to that. Suppose your parents didn’t edit your genes for a specific hair color but instead left it to random chance. You didn’t consent to that, either.

      As a wise man once said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

      1. You are just begging the question. If it is okay for my parents to change my hair color in the womb because nature was going to choose something, why isn’t it okay to change it now? It is still true that nature is going to give me a hair color no matter what whether I am inside or outside the womb.

        Bailey’s argument hinges on the assumption that if something about a person is going to happen one way randomly because of nature, you don’t need consent to intervene and change that to something else. And that is just wrong. Since when did consent hinge upon the results of not doing the proposed action? It doesn’t. Consent means just that, consent. “It was going to happen anyway” has nothing to do with it.

        1. If it is okay for my parents to change my hair color in the womb because nature was going to choose something, why isn’t it okay to change it now?

          Makers of millions of hair care products would like to introduce you to their full lines.

          1. Just bercause I can agree to consent doesn’t mean I don’t have to consent. Sure, I can do all kinds of things if I choose to. But that doesn’t give you or my parents the right to do those things without my consent.

            1. Did you give your parents consent to conceive you?

              1. He didn’t give you permission to comment either.

              2. No. But so what? The fact that the act of conception is the one thing in my life that happens without the possibility of my consent doesn’t deprive me of my personal sovereignty on everything else.

                Your argument proves too much. If it is true that my lack of consent to being born viciates my right to consent to changes to my body in the womb, then it vitiates my right to consent to any changes in my body anytime and takes the NAP out along with that.

                1. J: Before you are a zygote, there is no you to consent to or refuse anything. Once you’re a zygote, your genes are what they are however you came by them. There is no point in the process where your consent/refusal is possible and therefore ethically meaningful with respect to your genetic makeup.

                  1. Yet, somehow, Frankenstein’s monster still got very angry at Frankenstein.

                    1. And he was a real guy, too!

                  2. Before you are a zygote, there is no you to consent to or refuse anything. Once you’re a zygote, your genes are what they are however you came by them. There is no point in the process where your consent/refusal is possible and therefore ethically meaningful with respect to your genetic makeup.

                    Oh really? Suppose that China decided that it was going to edit the genes of all of its citizens to make them easier to control and better workers. By your logic that would be entirely okay. Yet, that would be monsterous. You just assume that these things would always be positive and skip over the issue of consent.

                    It seems odd to say that doing something before you are born violates your consent. But you see the undeniable evil of something like my China example, you can see why that yes consent still applies. If it didn’t, then there would be nothing wrong with doing that. You dont’ see it because you only consider it being used for the positive.

                    1. Oh really? Suppose that China decided that it was going to edit the genes of all of its citizens to make them easier to control and better workers. By your logic that would be entirely okay. Yet, that would be monsterous. You just assume that these things would always be positive and skip over the issue of consent.

                      Wait, stop the music.

                      John, are you trying to imply that how someone behaves is intimately tied with genetics? That puts quite a monkeywrench into the sacred conservative creed that people are responsible for all their actions and that if you are a failure, it’s completely your own damn fault.

                    2. John, are you trying to imply that how someone behaves is intimately tied with genetics?

                      No I am not. I am giving a hypothetical. Assume for the sake of argument we do figure out how to control people’s bahavior or behavioral tendencies via gene editing. If we could, by Bailey’s logic, a government gene editing their way to a compliant society would be ethically okay. How could it not be.

                      If you can’t see the hypothetical, consider my example of wanting my child to be born deaf. By your logic, why isn’t it ethical for me to have the genes of my sperm edited such that any child I concieve is born deaf? I don’t see how it isn’t.

                    3. If you are willing to entertain that hypothetical, you must be will to entertain the hypothetical that there already exist huge genetic differences between people that control, to a large degree, how successful they will be in life.

                    4. Sure there are big genetic differences. But just because nature makes me a certain way doesn’t give you the right to alter that without my consent. Yeah, I cannot possibly consent to being born or consent to whatever nature makes my genes. But, I do not see how that fact somehow means you can change my genes without my consent.

                    5. “John, are you trying to imply that how someone behaves is intimately tied with genetics? That puts quite a monkeywrench into the sacred conservative creed that people are responsible for all their actions and that if you are a failure, it’s completely your own damn fault.”

                      Good choice of words – “intimately tied with” is very different from “automatically determines”.
                      Yes, one’s genetics has a strong influence on one’s behavior.
                      No, that doesn’t negate one’s responsibility for their behavior.
                      Choice is still present, even if we argue its degree.

                    6. Government is only a backup to make sure that parents don’t abuse their children.

                      What kind of kids to have should be up to the parents, as well as if to have them and when,

              3. my mom is still pissed about that whole “my conception” thing

                1. Let me guess: it wasn’t immaculate.

                  1. Like George Atkinson says, “it was immaculate deception.”

        2. It is an argument of a similar flavor to his bankrupt contention that if embryos die of natural causes in significant numbers than it is ethically fine to intentionally destroy them.

        3. By the way, you are the first person I have found in a long time who actually knows how to use the expression “begging the question”.

          Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

          1. Thank you.

    2. It is a Brave New World Bailey advocates for.

    3. There is a tremendous difference between fixing broken genetics and tinkering with genetics that aesthetically displease the child’s guardians.

      1. Yes. You are exactly right. The analogy is doctors doing elective surgury on someone in a coma.

  3. So who’s property are they?

    1. In China? The state.

      1. This is something I keep thinking myself, in that we seem to not realize that the concept of the New Soviet Man is something that socialist states are pretty interested in. To pretend this type of technology won’t be used by the state to forcibly alter the population at some point is probably wishful thinking.

        In regards to how effective centrally planning the genetics of a population might be, well, there’s little doubt they’ll be terrible at it and kill a lot of people in the process.

        Standing alone as an idea, there’s nothing inherently bad about the potential for parents to alter their childrens genes. In practice, it’s doubtful it will go well. The rich having super-children may be a benefit, or it may be a doom. Guess it depends how cynical you are.

        Either way, how long until people start genetically engineering their dogs to be children should perhaps be the real question.

        1. Oh, and just to note this, the Progressive movement was a movement based on eugenics. Gee, they have no political power today right? While they may talk a diversity talk, they’ll still walk the eugenic walk if given half a chance. Just look what they managed to accomplish just with legal abortion.

          1. Inherent in the concept of “progress” is an aim, a destination.

            You see the endgame, BYODB.
            Global Socialism under a techno-eugenic master class, who oversee the cleaving of humanity into two distinct species.

        2. All technology can and will be used by bad actors to do bad things, but unless you plan to join an Amish community all we can do is be vigilant and try to ensure its not used for bad purposes while still enjoying the benefits

        3. And then you meet the (college) kid bagging groceries who thinks it would be totally cool to genetically alter someone to have pink hair – a trait not found in the human genome – and if we go that far with designer, we may have unconsenting kids being genetically modified into the capital residents of the Hunger Games.

          And who would want THAT?

    2. Well, since it was in China, they’re property of the state.

      1. Gotta refresh more often.

  4. These kids are a hell of a lot safer to release into the gene pool than the kids born from IVF or artificial insemination.
    Intentionally passing on the genes of people who can’t naturally reproduce is a terrible idea, as anybody who has seen any science fiction should know. Each successive generation will be more and more likely to not be able to reproduce naturally. There are more than enough kids to adopt. Insurance companies and the government should not cover IVF and artificial insemination, and instead cover adoptions and the costs of mothers willing to give up their kids.

    1. That is an interesting point. The problem with it is that it assumes that infertility is a condition that is passed geneticlly. I have never seen any evidence that it is.

      1. There are basically no studies on it, but short of injuries and cancers that affect our reproductive issues, I’m willing to bet there is an strong genetic and inheritable factor in people with reproductive issues, and we are actively encouraging them to reproduce.

        1. And I say this all as a gay man who has always wanted kids. With surrogacy, I think it’s selfish and cruel to intentionally create a child that will never know its birth mother. Adopt for Christ’s sake.

          1. I agree with you about that. I also don’t like creating embreyos to just throw in the trash which is what happens with IVT. I

            1. OK, John, so it’s a horribly big sin to throw away a fartilized egg cell… HOW MUCH do you want to punish this sin, for?

              I say a fine of $1.35 per each life-thwarted fartilized egg cell, would be about right… We have to STAND UP for potentila human life! But $1.35 per blastocycst sounds about right to me… We have made our point, but proportionately. Let the punishment fit the crime, I say!

              How much do YOU want to punish these sinners for?

              1. Nothing. Just because something is wrong doesn’t automatically mean it should be criminal you vapid moron.

                1. OK so then you believe in persuading, not coercing. Good on you!

                  And I mean that for real! I wish more people were the same on that, believe you me!!!

                2. This concept is very hard for some people to understand, especially progressives. (not saying SQRSLY is a progressive, btw)

        2. I’m willing to bet there is an strong genetic and inheritable factor in people with reproductive issues

          Not to discredit your overarching point but, really? How much would you put down on this theory of yours?

          Because there is a genetic reason mules are infertile and it’s virtually unable to be inherited.

          To more specifically attack your overall point (while still agreeing we should adopt over IVF), kinda the idea of being human is that we’d accept and even prefer Albert Einstein even if his genetics indicate he shouldn’t have been born.

          1. Well, really how would we know? As infertility issues really results in no genetic offspring?

            Many user of IVF could have had perfectly healthy reproductive systems prior to decades of hormonal therapy-suppression and/or aging out of the fertile years, so even if infertility has a genetic component, it would be very hard to ascertain in the population, especially when you add non-genetic heredity into the mix.

        3. Possibly. But the majority of women who use IVF are those who waited until they were older to conceive, and now find that it’s almost impossible. It’s not a matter of being genetically incapable all your life.

  5. Berg agrees that He’s gene-editing is unethical, but concludes that “the natural/unnatural distinction that one might be tempted to make is not particular[ly] relevant.”

    Yes it is. The unatural has human agency and is done so by choice. That is a big difference from things that happen in nature. The crux of this argument seems to be that if something happens in nature, the human being it happens can have another mutation imposed on them without their consent. That is bullshit.

    1. In that case, let’s prohibit all chosen sex partners. From now on, if you want sex, your partner will be chosen randomly. This will prevent all human agency.

      1. In that case, let’s prohibit all chosen sex partners. From now on, if you want sex, your partner will be chosen randomly.

        That makes absolutely no sense. It am not even sure how to respond to it it is so non responsive. I can’t violate your body without your consent. That is the NAP. That means I have no right to change things about your body in the womb, short of life and limb, because you can’t consent and I can’t do it without your consent.

        How you go from that affirmation of human agency and sovereignty to “that means we should not let people choose sex partners” is a mystery known only to the voices in your head.

        1. OK then John, my human agency is denied to me by the likes of John, when I want to go and see the genetic surgeon to splice my reproductive genes for me. OK, got that…

          How about, I want to sleep on a radioactive slag heap every night, and mutate my genes? Or far more plausibly, I work my arse off in a chemo joint where I intake a bit of mutagenic chemicals daily, just to pay my friggin’ bills? Shall I then be denied my right to reproduce, by the likes of John, and their voting powers?

          Sleep on a radioactive slag heap, fuck the babes, John is OK with a random result…

          See the gene-splicer to make it better, John has a hissy fit…

          PLEASE explain, as you would, to a child!

          1. OK then John, my human agency is denied to me by the likes of John, when I want to go and see the genetic surgeon to splice my reproductive genes for me. OK, got that…

            Yeah, you can’t do shit to your children without their consent. They would without your intervention be born one way. You have no right to change that without their consent anymore than I have a right to give you a nose job without your consent. There are some things that involve life and limb that we can assume anyone would consent to having. But beyond that, no, you don’t have a right to create human beings as tools for whatever your sick fantasy is or even your not so sick fantsasy.

            1. My sick fantasy is to allow human parents to eliminate obvious genetic sicknesses and defects, for starters. There are a TON of them out there!

              Then see where the “tech” and human freedom leads, from there. Genes are not the be-all and end-all. I can chose to be a benevolent humanoid, even if I have genes that might want to TEND to steer me towards being an asshole.

              Is the area of a rectangle more determined by width, or by length? Is a human more determined by genes, or by environment?

              Well, how about FREE WILL? Free will, and willingly choosing benevolence, is what will save our arses one of these days, IMHO…

              1. My sick fantasy is to allow human parents to eliminate obvious genetic sicknesses and defects, for starters. There are a TON of them out there!

                Which part of There are some things that involve life and limb that we can assume anyone would consent to having. do you not understand? You are dellusional if you think they are only going to be used for that purpose or are even guaranteed to be effective in that purpose.

        2. You are then advocating for abortion in all cases to be illegal, since no child in the womb is capable of giving consent to being aborted.

      2. Whether that benefits “humanity as a whole” might be interesting research.

    2. J: Nature’s random lottery afflicts 6 percent of kids who born with birth defects of genetic or partially genetic origin. Forcing parents to allow nature to take its pitiless course is unethical.

      1. What is a “birth defect” Ron? Where exactly is that line? Is being short a birth defect? Having less than a 120 IQ? Why aren’t those things birth defects? All a “defect” is is some deviation from the norm. The arguements regarding the slippery slope that apply to eugenics apply equally well here. Instead of murdering the sick and unfit, we will just make sure they are never born. Once we do that, there is no reason to stop when you can make sure every undesireable isn’t born.

        1. I propose that we let prospective moms and dads decide these questions for us, and tell Suzy Nosenheimer, and Fred Buttinsky, and John, to butt out!

          What else are we left with? If a person dare DISOBEY John (after John persuades 51% of the voters to join him), and travel to a foreign land… Or go and see the freckle-faced bio-tech genius in the garage next door… And new-Mom is impregnated with a “monster baby” who has eye-color selected deliberately…

          Is John and the 51% of the voters ready to forcibly abort the “monster babies”? That is one of the questions that NEVER gets answered for me!!!!

          1. Then why don’t we let them murder their kids to or ensure they are born handicapped if they like that/

            I propose that you are an unbelievable idiot who has no idea what is going on in this conversation and is just wasting everyone’s time saying stupid shit that has already been discussed and dismissed or making idiotic reductio absurdum fallacies.

            You are just contemtably stupid.

            1. Is John and the 51% of the voters ready to forcibly abort the “monster babies”? That is one of the questions that NEVER gets answered for me!!!!

              1. That doesn’t even make any sense. Go fuck yourself and come back when you have a brain. No one is talking about aborting anyone. How the fuck could you even think they are? What is wrong with you? Were you geneticlly engineered to be stupid?

                1. OK then, again, as long as you use ONLY persuasion and NOT coercion, in having your way on this, GOOD on you!

                  If you holler abut it on the street corner, also please prepare yourself for those who just walk away, and chose not to listen. Leaving them alone, too, is part of “persuasion, not coercion”.

        2. J: To get some idea, you might try browsing through this list of diseases as a start.

          1. You totally dodge the point Ron. Yes, I know that there are lots of things that you and I would say are birth defects. But that doesn’t mean other things like being short or not smart enough can’t also be considered birth defects.

            That is a terrible nonresponsive answer. And you have to know that.

          2. Ron: THANK YOU for that link! I will save it! Can NOT say that I will savor it… It is WAY the hell too long! But voluntary acceptance of genetic engineering, by willing parents, will hopefully pass many of them (the entries in the list) into history someday soon…

  6. I agree with the prominent bioscience researchers. God created humans in His own image and to start to modify those through gene mutations over generations is tantamount to blasphemy. Or maybe heresy. I forget. Definitely an affront.

    1. Does the NAP just not apply if you were going to end up some way no matter what?

      1. Reminds me of the pirates on The Simpsons saying, as they cut the lifeboat loose, “For liability purposes, it will be the ocean that kills you, not us.” Deliberately leaving all this shit to random chance when intervention is a choice is just as much a deliberate choice as intervention. When you see a little old lady getting mugged and choose to just keep walking rather than getting involved, you may be able to sleep with a clear conscience knowing that you had nothing to do with the little old lady getting mugged but most people would see this as at least morally troubling. Maybe things would have turned out worse had you gotten involved, maybe they would have turned out better. Who knows? But I can’t see being an absolutist for the position of not getting involved any more than being an absolutist for the position of you have an obligation to get involved.

        1. You assume every intervention is going to be lifesaving. Indeed, if the intervention is saving life or limb, I think it is fair to assume the person would consent and saving them is not a violation of the NAP.

          The problem is that this technology won’t stop with that. It will go on to do things that are not life or limb but things that parents see as being “good”. When that happens, then it because just like the elective surgery example I give below. I can assume you consent to me saving your life or your sight. But no way in hell can I assume that you consent to me changing your hair color or eye color or making you smarter or more athletic in some way.

        2. Jerry,

          If there were a special pill that you could take that would raise your IQ by ten points, would it be okay for me to slip it into your drink without you knowing it? I mean who doesn’t want to be smarter? I am doing you a favor right?

          That would and I think you would agree be a total violation of your sovereinty as a person and a violation of the NAP. Well, how is a parent gene editing their child’s intelligence any different? I don’t see how it is.

          1. John,

            Would it be OK for you to slip $1,570 into my bank account, w/o me knowing who did it?

            HELL YEAH BRING IT ON, BABY!!! (I can donate it to the poor if it gives me the pearl-clutching).

            Would it be OK for you to jack up my IQ by 10 or 300 points, w/o me knowing who did it?

            HELL YEAH BRING IT ON, BABY!!! (I can donate the anti-gravity pod or whatits that I invent, to the good of the humans, if I want to shit a brick about it).

            1. Giving you money is not the same thing as forcing you to drink something. Maybe you don’t want to take the pill. Perhaps the possible as yet unknown risks causes you to say no. So no, I can’t slip shit into your body without your consent even if i do think it is good for you.

              Jesus Christ, you can’t be this fucking stupid. No one is this stupid.

              1. YOU are.

  7. Is there a way to edit people out of the gene pool? Asking for a friend.

    1. Tell you friend that it is too late to edit out Tony. It seems you have to do that in the first few hours after birth. (for now)

    2. There are several thousand different ways.

  8. How is gene editing anything other than more effective eugenics? If it is okay to go in and rearrange the genes of the unborn for the purpose of producing a better species, why isn’t it okay to produce a better species through selective breeding?

    Yes eugenics often involved coercsion of those deemed “unfit”. So, take the element out of it. Suppose the government started offering to pay some large sum of money to anyone deemed unit who agrees to be sterilized. There is no coercion there. So why wouldn’t that be ethical if this is ethical?

    1. How is gene editing anything other than more effective eugenics?

      It’s much less effective.

      1. Probably so. But, eugenics none the less.

        1. People turned wolves into chihuahuas. I don’t think gene editing in its current state is in the same ballpark.

          1. People turned wolves into chihuahuas.

            Not exactly. Wolves and dogs shared a common ancestor believed to be smaller than wolves. Remember, foxes and coyotes are a part of the Canine family. Additionally, it’s not clear that, even if the single ancestor was more wolf-like, that there was any domestication or selective breeding process on the part of man that made the Chihuahua (or it’s precursors). It’s not even certain that there was a single domestication and selective breeding process or event. It’s entirely possible that in an ironic behavioral evolution turnabout; the people who first tried to domesticate wolves got eaten by the same wolves and another group of humans learned from their mistakes and decided to domesticate foxes or coyotes instead.

            1. And we have selectively bred dogs to create certain breeds that are physically unstable.

              http://pethelpful.com/dogs/The…..ng-on-Dogs

            2. Jeebus.

              People turned aurochs into cattle.

              Is that alright?

              1. Anything required to create cows is ok…
                They’re like 80% of my diet

  9. I like the researchers argument that since there’s no global agreement on the guidelines for this sort of thing, there must be a global moratorium until such a global agreement is established. Seems to me there’s a global agreement that a global agreement isn’t necessary. It sounds like the usual “surely all reasonable people can agree” argument that, if you reject the argument, well, you ain’t a reasonable people, is you?

  10. Hitler wins again!

  11. “Will they be allowed to have children naturally, and pass on their edited genes and whatever potential side effects might arise from their altered DNA?,”

    Not if Monsanto has anything to say about it.

    1. Monsanto has a patent on your genes. You can’t pass them on without paying a licensing fee. Sadly enough, that isn’t that far out of the realm of possibility.

  12. Jon Holmlund asserted, “Risks to later generations, that is, to the descendants of edited people, would be incalculable, and the informed consent of those later generations would be unobtainable.”

    How many yet to be born babies have been interviewed so far about being born deaf or blind?

    1. Sparky you hit on the central fallacy of this line of thinking. That is that because consent cannot be obtained and you are going to end up as something anyway, obtaining consent is no longer neeeded. .

      1. Then there really ought to be no fight about it, should there?

        1. It is a direct violation of the NAP. People who don’t see that just assume that it will all be positive and this technology will only be used to do great things. I see absolutely no reason to assume that.

          I think there probably are some things, blindness, early death, things like that that it probably is proper to assume the person would consent. The problem is that there is no way this technology will stop with that. Once it gets going it will be people trying to make their kids into whatever they see as ideal without their consent. And that is the least bad thing that will be done with it.

          1. Once it gets going it will be people trying to make their kids into whatever they see as ideal without their consent.

            They do that now. It’s called raising children.

            1. No they don’t. The kids ultimately get old enough to make their own decisions and are free to disregard whatever their parents taught them if they so choose. You cannot, however change your genetic make up back to what it was after your parents screwed with it for your “own good”.

          2. People who don’t see that just assume that it will all be positive and this technology will only be used to do great things.

            Bullshit. Rosy-eyed Bailey may think technology can do no wrong, but not everyone does. Even still, a possibility that bad things will happen ought not be the only reason to not do something.

            Once it gets going it will be people trying to make their kids into whatever they see as ideal without their consent.

            If a woman owns her body, she can do whatever she wants to her eggs. If a man owns his body, he can do whatever he wants to his sperm. If they agree to have a baby, they get to decide what to do to the embryo because they are the owners.

            1. That is an interesting question. If you are doing the gene editing before the child is concieved, you don’t exist to not consent. But, it still affects you in the same way. I don’t see how it isn’t the same violation.

              As far as the possibility of this going bad, okay, let them do it for conditions that involve life or limb. I am okay with that for the reasons I give. But I am not okay and I don’t see how anyone who claims to believe in the NAP could be okay for doing things that are elective and do not involve life or limb.

              1. But I am not okay and I don’t see how anyone who claims to believe in the NAP could be okay for doing things that are elective and do not involve life or limb.

                And I’m OK with people having a child with 10 arms that could outperform me at any task.

                1. And I’m OK with people having a child with 10 arms that could outperform me at any task.

                  Then you don’t believe in the NAP and think it is okay to violate people’s bodies without their consent for “their own good”. That is your right of course, but you should be honest about that and stop pretending you believe in the NAP in other contexts.

                  1. Then you don’t believe in the NAP

                    True

                    and think it is okay to violate people’s bodies without their consent for “their own good”

                    False. Unfortunately you are incapable of seeing how this could be.

                    you should be honest about that and stop pretending you believe in the NAP in other contexts.

                    If I ever claimed I did it was completely by accident.

                    1. False. Unfortunately you are incapable of seeing how this could be.

                      Did you not just say

                      And I’m OK with people having a child with 10 arms that could outperform me at any task.

                      In the post above? How is that statement not saying you are okay with people violating other people’s bodies for “their own good”? You were going to have two arms but your parents decided after you were concieved and without your consent that you needed ten. That is changing your body without your consent for your “own good”.

                      And if you don’t agree with the NAP, then I guess you are okay with murder and rape and other forms of personal violation and violence. Why else are those things wrong if not because of the NAP?

                    2. How is that statement not saying you are okay with people violating other people’s bodies for “their own good”?

                      Because the question is whether or not embryos can be edited.

                      And if you don’t agree with the NAP, then I guess you are okay with murder and rape and other forms of personal violation and violence.

                      Wrong. Again, your personal beliefs make you incapable of understanding why. I’m not sure why you’re stuck in A or B mode and choose to ignore C through ZZZZZ.

                    3. Because the question is whether or not embryos can be edited.

                      That is a false dychotomy. If doing it pre conception eliminates the need for any consent, then there would be nothing wrong with editing genes for any purpose no matter how horrible. I wanted a child who would be easy to control and with a strong back and a low IQ, so I edited the genes to ensure that happens. According to yours and Bailey’s logic that is totally okay and not a violation of your sovereignty. And that is just obvious nonsense. It would be a total violation. You would have been normal and I made you a freak for my own purposes.

                      If there is another reason why rape and murder are wrong besides the NAP, explain it. If you can’t do that, stop wasting my time pretending you are excused from explaining and justifying your position.

                    4. If there is another reason why rape and murder are wrong besides the NAP, explain it.

                      Tell you what, stop accusing every other person on the planet of making up false dichotomies because that’s all you ever do. Seriously. Never do it again.

                      Rape and murder are wrong because they are violations of another person’s property, namely their bodies. The libertarian NAP is not the only possible thing that can lead a person to that determination. The fact that you don’t get that is not my problem.

                      I wanted a child who would be easy to control and with a strong back and a low IQ, so I edited the genes to ensure that happens.

                      Good for you. I hope you have fun with your toy. Since your doing so has not impacted my life then I don’t really care. I might not think you should do that, but I don’t have a right to impose my feelings on you.

                    5. Rape and murder are wrong because they are violations of another person’s property, namely their bodies.

                      That is just restating the NAP. And I am not forcing you into a false dychotomy. I am asking you to explain your position.

                      Good for you. I hope you have fun with your toy. Since your doing so has not impacted my life then I don’t really care. I might not think you should do that, but I don’t have a right to impose my feelings on you.

                      I think when you get to the point that you are forced to admit that my geneticlly engineering a child slave is okay, you have probably lost the argument.

                    6. That is just restating the NAP.

                      If you say so. I know I can’t convince you that other value systems than the NAP exist and come to the same conclusion.

                      forced to admit that my geneticlly engineering a child slave is okay

                      You missed it again. My thinking it is OK or not is irrelevant because I don’t have the right to force my values on you. I don’t think abortion is the right thing to do past a certain point, but I have no right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do. I don’t think making your child eat broccoli is right, but again it’s not up to me. I understand that my ethics system is completely alien to you and we’ll both just have to accept that that’s the way it is.

                    7. For the moment, let’s stick to the before conception part. Prior to even meeting my wife, lets say I edited my genes such that it increased the likelihood that my children would be more controllable. Aren’t they my genes at this point? If it is immoral to edit my own genes, than it would be equally immoral to have a vasectomy. I have chosen, for my potential offspring, not to give them life.

                      I am really not trying to argue for argument’s sake. I am really trying to reach clarity.

                    8. You are asking the key question Bear. Is that immoral? I would argue that it is because you are enforcing your will on your children without their consent. And the evidence I give to show that is the example I give above of some nut wanting his kids to be born disabled. If they are your genes and you can alter them any way you like, then someone altering their genes to ensure their children are disabled is okay., And I don’t see how that could be okay. The reason why we find such an example revolting is that you are violating their soveriegnty even though they are not yet born. They would have been born one way and you are intervening without their consent and ensuring they are born whatever way you want. You don’t have the right to do that.

                    9. For me this is an example that I feel uncomfortable with something (a deaf person making their genetics such that they can pass on their deafness), but I am not yet convinced that the feeling arises because I know something is wrong and I just need to be consistent; or if my emotions aren’t necessarily steering me in the right ethical direction. For example, I get personally very upset to see someone hurt a dog. But, I don’t think that hurting non-human animals is an ethical or moral question. They don’t have rights, because they don’t have agency like humans do.

                      At the moment, I am just not sure.

        2. I think of it like this. Suppose you were in an auto accident wound up in a coma. You, like an unborn child, would not be capable of consenting to medical treatment. But, we don’t let you die or go without care because of that. We can assume that you would consent to the doctor saving your life or saving your sight or limbs and such.

          But what if along with the life saving treatment, they gave you a nose job or performed some other elective surgery the doctors or your family deemed good for you. That would be an outragous violation of your personal sovereignty. Well, how is doing anything except real life and limb treatment to a unborn child any different? I don’t see how it is.

  13. What happens if you feed a gene-edited baby genetically engineered salmon and golden rice? MAYHEM.

    1. What happens if you feed a gene-edited baby to a non-gene-edited baby? The Department of Agriculture was working on answering this question but now, thanks to PETA whining and complaining, we may never know.

      1. Hey, all we gotta do is genetically engineer humans without a frontal lobe, and we will be finally able to find out, in an ethical manner, if humans really do taste like pork.

      2. “What happens if you feed a gene-edited baby to a non-gene-edited baby?” (I have wondered that myself, actually).

        A GMO baby eating a GMO baby is cannibalism = WRONG!!!

        A non-GMO baby eating a non-GMO baby is cannibalism = WRONG!!!

        Any mix of the two is OK, not being cannibalism…

        Being a king (and-or a Man of Science), one has to KNOW these things!!!

        Yer welcome!!!!

  14. And it turns out the reproductive risks of edited genes are essentially no different than the risks associated with naturally mutated genes.

    Just as the computational risks of edited programs are essentially no different than the risks associated with naturally mutated programs?

    1. I got some naturally mutated programs in the attic right now. Damn things are hard to eliminate.

    2. R: Do you mean genetic algorithms? 😉

      1. Ron

        I am curious about your response to my hypothetical. I for whatever reason want my child to be born deaf and profoundly handicapped. Your logic says that since that child doesn’t exist and nature would make them into something, I need not get their consent to change their genes and physical makeup pre conception. If that is the case, I don’t see how it wouldn’t be ethical for me to ensure my child is born deaf and mentally handicapped.

        Why is my example so revolting? And surely it is. It is because making the choice pre conception doesn’t override the child’s right to consent.

        1. As I asked above, if it is immoral to modify MY genes such that the probability is increased that my offspring are deaf, isn’t it even more immoral to have a vasectomy? I am not merely denying my offspring the right to hear, and am denying them the very right to live?

          1. If you choose not to have the child there is no and never will be any “person” there whose rights are violated. If you do choose to have children and you alter them in some way to suit your tastes, there is a “person” whose rights you are violating. The fact that you do something before their is someone there doesn’t matter. You did it in anticipation of their being there and having the effect on them.

            Suppose you could create some mechanism would be a part of the child’s genes and when it was activated would put them in a deep sleep. You create this and edit their genes before they are concieved. Would that mean you activating it or it activating on their own after they were born would not be a violation of their sovereignty. Even if you didn’t use it, isn’t the child walking around with this device in their head without their consent a violation? According to your logic, it isn’t since you put it there before they were concieved. But clearly it is. t

            1. J: Actually researchers have been at work on human artificial human chromosomes that could act very much like your suggested “mechanism.” As I reported some time ago: On the horizon are artificial chromosomes containing genes that protect against HIV, diabetes, prostate and breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, all of which could be introduced into a developing human embryo. When born, the child would have a souped-up immune system. Even more remarkably, artificial chromosomes could be designed with “hooks” or “docking stations,” so that new genetic upgrades later could be slotted into the chromosomes and expressed in adults. Artificial chromosomes could also be arranged to replicate only in somatic cells, which form regular tissues, and not in the germ cells involved in reproduction. As a result, genetically enhanced parents would not pass those enhancements on to their children; they could choose new or different enhancements for their children, or have them born without any new genetic technologies.

        2. J: Do you think that genetically deaf people should not be allowed to conceive and give birth to deaf children? I think that choice should be up to them. OTOH, if they want to take advantage genetic technologies such as gene editing so that their children are not born deaf, they should be allowed to do that too.

  15. It’s all fun and games until we get a Magneto?especially if he’s leading The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

  16. How can one definitively say that there is no risk to future generations? This is patently false…we just unlocked the human genome a handful of years ago, and we won’t be able to make any conclusions regarding the long term effects of modifications for at least 1 to 2 generations. It’s like altering software code…seemingly unrelated regression issues are always a risk. And the human genome is far more complex than any software.

    1. Absolutely. This really is a case of us screwing with things that we do not fully comprehend.

    2. Anyone claiming there’s literally zero risk to robots editing our genes is too stupid to take seriously about anything.

    3. E: The risks are no greater than for natural mutations being propagated.

      1. How many generations on average will a gene mutation that negatively affects fitness last?

        1. S: It depends. For example, if it is dominant and kills before puberty, then the questions of reproductive fitness and the effect on future generations are pretty much moot.

          1. What you’re describing is a “variable.” It shouldn’t be an impediment to answering the question.

            1. S: I did answer your question. If you’d like more detail, this article, “The population genetics of mutations: good, bad, and indifferent,” should help you.

              1. I know the answer, Ronald. I was wondering if you had a rudimentary understanding of evo theory or high school algebra. I got my answer.

                LOL at your google fail.

                1. S: You are welcome to believe what you like.

  17. When thinking about:

    A trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you ? your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. How should you proceed?

    I must admit that genetically engineering fat people out of existence and/or sterilizing stupid people for hanging around a railroad track never occurred to me as a solution.

    1. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you ? your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five.

      You have no right to force him to die no matter how many lives it would save. To say otherwise is just ultilitarianism.

      1. You have no right to force him to die no matter how many lives it would save. To say otherwise is just ultilitarianism.

        I guess I’m being too fatalist. The obvious moral solution would be to just engineer him so fat that he’d both survive the fall *and* stop the train. Since this would likely make him too heavy to shove off a bridge, you should probably fuck with the size of his feet and inner ear too.

        Now, I know what you’re thinking. If we can arbitrarily move through time and manipulate technology on a whim, why don’t we make a foolproof sensor that stops the train if there are people on the track or give everyone wings or flight boots or something? And to that I say quit distracting from my point; given the technology to fuck around with fat people, it’s a moral imperative that we should. This would be the obvious and unequivocal libertarian standpoint.

      2. Sarcasm aside, we went through this with the whole cloning and embryonic stem cell debate. People were so worried that we would be cloning people to harvest organs or using embryonic stem cells to treat every disease under the sun without the slightest inkling that it’s going to be far into the future and, even then, prohibitively burdensome to solve these issues in this manner. Pay $100K, possibly jeopardize your family’s bloodline for the 25% increase in probability that the child will be born with blond hair, spend $10K on a lifetime supply of bleach and peroxide, or spend $0 and live with the idea that the may be born with brown hair.

        I think one sides certainty in the efficacy of *the* technology is absurd. While I think the underlying questions in opposition are valuable, I think the specific opposition is pretty equally absurd.

  18. Throw the fat man onto the track, but jump on with him at the same time to be sure there’s enough mass to stop the trolley.

  19. “Obviously, CRISPRed embryos need to be checked before they are implanted to make sure that the desired changes have been made and that no especially harmful off-target mutations have occurred. But after that, gene-edited kids can be released into the wild human gene pool with no special worries about how they might effect future generations.”

    Could you translate this into clear language?

    It seems to mean this: Take an altered embryo, examine it to see if its genetics came out right, if not kill it, if so implant it.

    The premise of legal abortion is that “a woman should not have to carry something in her womb an instantly longer than she wants to.” Well, this embryo is out of the womb here, so there isn’t that consideration. You have a real human being in your laboratory, without the standard “woman’s choice” excuse for killing it.

    So long as the people who manage these laboratories (and in China I suppose that means the state) get to decide which human beings live or die, then other ethical issues seem of less urgent significance.

    Plus the fact that I doubt researchers in China have very friendly goals when engaging in this sort of selective breeding.

    As others have pointed out, they are probably thinking more in terms of engineering obedient soldiers, etc., to serve the State, than they are in creating healthy self-actualized people.

    1. E: First, the only folks who should be doing any “selecting” are parents. Moral reasoning as to there being “a real human being in your lab” is not settled. Religious views vary. See also my article on The Genetics of Ensoulment.

      1. Why bring religion into this?

        What species does the embryo belong to?

        Is it alive?

        What business does anyone – including parents – have in killing a living human being? Has it been convicted of a capital crime? Is it pointing a gun at someone?

        1. And of course there’s this prolife Stephanie Slade essay from Reason in 2015, with a link to an intra-libertarian abortion debate in which you took part –

          https://bit.ly/2TXRSQq

        2. E: The fact that all people were once embryos does not necessarily imply that embryos are people. If you go to Google Scholar you will see that the debate over embryonic personhood is largely motivated by religious considerations.

          1. And the abolitionist movement was accused of “blind New England Puritan fanaticism.” But whether they were from New England or not, Puritans or not, doesn’t affect whether African slavery is OK.

            A government which picks and chooses which living human beings are persons, and which are lives unworthy of life, is an arbitrary government.

      2. First, the only folks who should be doing any “selecting” are parents.

        The same parents that should be the only ones “selecting” whether their kids get vaccinated or not? Asking for a friend.

  20. Why not at least try it

    http://pre00.deviantart.net/a3…..byvavj.jpg

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