BELIEVE IT OR NOT…….

A new player has emerged in this crazy technology world that promises prospective parents the ability to have “healthy” babies. 

Yep….it’s true!

Founded by Noor Siddiqui, Orchid is a company that provides services to check for genetic risk factors. This could pave the way for parents to choose their child’s genetic traits in the future. 

If this feels like a bit of a deja vu…you’re probably right, but we won’t touch on that here. 

While the promise of reducing the risk of hereditary diseases may seem tantalizing, it’s imperative to examine the ethical considerations and the consequences of venturing into such profound genetic selection.

The Promise of Disease Prevention

At its core, Orchid’s service aims to provide parents with information about genetic risks that could affect their future children. 

How?

Through advanced screening techniques such as whole genome sequencing, potential parents can gain insight into the likelihood of passing on genetic conditions, thereby making informed decisions about their reproductive choices. 

Orchid’s thorough screening checks for several things at once from a single embryo biopsy, just like in regular testing. 

It looks at the overall chromosome health (PGT-A), specific genetic conditions (PGT-M), hundreds of genes linked to severe diseases, and the risk of developing certain diseases later in life.

The appeal of such a service is probably undeniable in a world where medical advances have continuously sought to eliminate disease and prolong life.

However, the ability to select ‘healthier’ babies raises numerous ethical questions. 

One of the most pressing concerns is the definition of ‘healthy.’ 

Our society values diversity and inclusivity, aiming for a single standard of health could unintentionally lead to everyone having similar genes. This would reduce the wide range of human differences to just a few ‘preferred’ traits.

Let’s not forget a potential argument to be made regarding the natural evolution of the human species. 

Changing the natural way genes are passed down could have unexpected effects on human evolution in the future.

The simple diversity found in our genetic makeup is not merely a matter of appearance or health; it’s a reservoir of potential for adaptation and resilience. 

Imagine a world without Lou Gherig, Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking.

By “making a selection” against certain genes, we may unknowingly deprive future generations of the necessary tools to face evolving environmental challenges.

A Slippery Slope to Designer Babies

Another significant concern is the potential for such technologies to pave the way for ‘designer babies’….oh the tangled webs we may weave with this.  

While Orchid currently focuses on health-related genetic information, this type of technology opens the door to non-medical enhancements and selections, which could lead to a future where people can choose physical, intellectual, and emotional traits, raising ethical and societal issues that are hard to foresee. 

Treating genetic traits like products could worsen social inequalities, as only those who can afford genetic selection services would have access to them.

Any way you look at this, the debate around genetic selection raises deep questions about the meaning of human life and how much science should shape it.

By changing our children’s genes, we enter areas that used to be controlled by nature or a higher power. 

This brings up important issues about who is responsible, whether it’s right to make these choices, and how far we should go in interfering with natural processes.

How do you think we should balance the power of science with the respect for nature and the sanctity of life when it comes to genetic selection?