Designer babies: Watchdog claims editing out gene mutations is first step to 'dystopian eugenics'

The technique could help defat inherited disease (stock image)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Once editing of genetic mutations in embryos is allowed, it will be impossible to avoid a "dystopian" world of "consumer eugenics."

That's the view of watchdog group Human Genetics Alert, whose founding director even raised the scourge of Nazism in a fiery interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Dr David King spoke to talkRADIO after a US study showed scientists may soon be able to edit out genetic mutations in order to prevent babies from being born with diseases. It is also thought that the technique could remove inherited conditions from embryos.

King told Julia Hartley-Brewer: "Once we allow this, allow them to start making genetically modified babies, then it will be basically impossible to avoid getting into that dystopian world of consumer eugenics and designer babies."

King said that the sort of eugenic theories espoused by the Nazis in the 1930s demonstrate the evil which could eventually arise from gene-editing - a claim which drew short shrift from Julia.

The intervieww also suggested that "actually there’s no medical case" for eradicating diseases by editing embryo DNA, claiming there are plenty of ways of preventing genetic diseases.

"The media always skip over [the fact that] we already have perfectly good techniques for avoiding the birth of those children [with genetic diseases]. Once you've got the gene, you can do genetic testing of either embryos or foetuses if the pregnancy has been established.

"The number of cases that occur around the world where you can’t use preimplantation genetic diagnosis, you can count them on the fingers of one hand.

"We can do it now, the reason why science keeps on investing in new technologies that are actually uneccessary is because basically of this really rather mindless belief of technology as progress."

Listen to the full interview above