No medical benefit to eugenic genetic engineering, says human genetics watchdog
Commenting on the recent report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics concluding that the creation of genetically engineered designer babies is ethically acceptable, Dr David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert,(1) said: “This is an absolute disgrace. We have had international bans on eugenic genetic engineering for 30 years. But this group of scientists(2) thinks it knows better, even though there is absolutely no medical benefit to this whatever. The Nuffield Council doesn’t even bother to say no to outright designer babies. The people of Britain decided 15 years ago that they don’t want GM food. Do you suppose they want GM babies?”
“Free-market eugenics is already operating in various ways, so it’s not a matter of slippery slopes or ‘scaremongering’. But this will make it much worse by opening the door to a true market in designer babies. The result will be that children, if they are not genetically engineered, will be at a disadvantage compared to the children of rich people who can afford to do that. Scientists and IVF corporations will be creating genetically enhanced elites who will lord it over the rest of us. We will be letting sexist and racist prejudices and disability oppression decide who is born. That is why we must have an international ban on creating genetically engineered babies.”
“This is neoliberal bioethics that puts individual whims ahead of society's needs for basic human equality and commonality. Although I don’t usually use the term ‘Frankenstein science’, there is another out-of-control monster here - the scientist-dominated bioethics approval machinery that never says a clear no to anything, that insists that if we can do it, we must. And then launches massive, scientifically unsound(3) propaganda campaigns, which it calls ‘public consultation’, to get its way.”
1. Human Genetics Alert is an independent secular watchdog group that supports abortion rights. Dr David King is a former molecular biologist, who was involved in the campaign against GM food.
2. The panel which produced this report contains five scientists and four others. The Council conducted an utterly biased ‘consultation process’, designed, as usual, to obtain the answer it wanted. Copies of HGA’s analysis of the consultation are available on request.
3. In 2008, the Nuffield Council, the medical establishment including four Nobel prize-winners, the HFEA and the rest of the pro-science lobby launched a campaign for the amendment of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos as ‘vital medical research’. This was despite the obvious fact that such embryos could never be used to create stem cells for treatment and would be an utterly distorted model of any disease because of epigenetic problems. The following year, when scientists applied to the Medical Research Council to pursue such research their application was turned down as lacking in scientific merit. This is only the most extreme of the many mendacious campaigns launched for the approval of the latest scientists’ shiny toy, including ‘therapeutic cloning’ (which like human animal hybrid embryos never came to fruition) and ‘mitochondrial replacement’.