Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Solutions and Consequences Part 2

In continuation from Cherise’s post about the possible solutions and consequences regarding the issue of designer babies, I will now introduce another two proposed solutions and their possible consequences.

Firstly, I feel that the government can provide funding for PGD and designer babies to make the technology more affordable to the masses. This will help to prevent a rich-poor divide and a superior race from emerging, where those who have been genetically engineered to contain superior genes all come from rich or powerful families. Currently, this technology is very expensive and normal people would not be able to afford it. Hence, even if some couples have a family history of recessive genes, designer babies would not be a practical option to them at all because of the cost. I feel that by providing subsidies to such needy couples, the government is able to ensure that this technology does not become exclusive the rich and will not be exploited.

However, this solution is not free of its shortfalls. The money that the government uses to fund this technology is basically the taxpayers’ money. So by right, if the government wants to use this money, they actually have to get consensus from all, if not the majority, of the citizens, which is only fair because the taxpayers have the right to know where their money is being channeled to. However, it is impossible to ensure that every single citizen approves of designer babies in the first place. Even if they do, they also might not feel that government funding would be the best way to deal with the situation. Hence, the citizens may feel unjust that the money they pay is going towards a cause that they are not supportive and feelings of displeasure towards the government might surface. If not controlled properly, this could result in many social problems such as strikes and riots, and the emergence of many opposition parties. By funding and subsidizing designer babies, the government could in fact complicate the situation further.

Secondly, I propose that a worldwide discussion between the leaders of all countries can get together for a discussion to come to a consensus whether or not to allow this technology to continue to be used and developed. If allowed, they could also come up with a set of international regulations for this technology agreed upon by all countries, to create a worldwide stance of the issue. At the present, some countries are for this technology to be developed while others are against it. Hence, there are many loopholes in the law. Let’s say, if a couple is unsuccessful in creating a designer baby in Singapore due to the restrictions in the law, they can simply choose to go to another country where regulations are more lax to create their baby. This is not solving the immediate problem but merely pushing the blame to others and allowing the problem to snowball into something bigger. This will not prevent the emergence of a superior race but could lead to the exploitation of this technology, similar to how surrogate mothers in India are being exploited. Couples who are unable to conceive children themselves turn to such surrogates in third world countries who are more than willing to help them bear their child at a fraction of the cost that would be required to hire a surrogate in the first world. By allowing such international exchanges to take place, the government is also unable to regulate the creation of such genetically engineered offsprings because they are unable to track them down. This would no doubt create a next generation of ‘robots’ where many different genes are unthinkingly inserted into an embryo without regulation in a bid to create the ‘perfect child’. Hence, if all the countries in the world can agree to enforce a certain set of rules and regulations worldwide, then this technology can be used more carefully and to better causes.

However, there are also some shortfalls to this solution. Firstly, it is very difficult to find a time and place to get the leaders of all the countries in the world to meet up together to come to a consensus on this issue. To some countries, they have more pressing issues on hand and they may be unwilling to spend manpower and effort on this issue as it pales in comparison to their existing problems, for example, Africa’s battle with HIV and poverty. Even if in the unlikely case, this meeting works out, it may also not be fair because the leaders may not truly reflect the views of the people. For example, the people of a country could be extremely against the ideas of designer babies but the government wants to develop this technology as a money making option. In the end, the point of view that would be discussed during the meeting would be that of the leaders instead of the people, which is rather biased and skewed. Also, poorer and less dominant countries like Africa also may not be able to have their viewpoints heard or taken into consideration. Such large scale meetings would be organized by the first world powerhouses and they would naturally gain more dominance over the rest of the countries because of their affluence and power. The weaker countries may choose to support the stronger country’s stance because they are heavily reliant on these powerhouses to fuel their economy and are afraid to offend them. All in all, the success rate of the worldwide leaders’ discussion is quite low.



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