Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies

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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

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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. 

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Declared Winner: Against The Motion

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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

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    24 comments

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    • 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.

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