Zhang has been working on a way to avoid mitochondrial disease using a so-called “three-parent” technique. In theory, there are a few ways of doing this. The method approved in the UK is called pronuclear transfer and involves fertilising both the mother’s egg and a donor egg with the father’s sperm. Before the fertilised eggs start dividing into early-stage embryos, each nucleus is removed. The nucleus from the donor’s fertilised egg is discarded and replaced by that from the mother’s fertilised egg.
But this technique wasn’t appropriate for the couple – as Muslims, they were opposed to the destruction of two embryos. So Zhang took a different approach, called spindle nuclear transfer. He removed the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and inserted it into a donor egg that had had its own nucleus removed. The resulting egg – with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor – was then fertilised with the father’s sperm.
Many have written on the dangers of biotech over the years, but I like Reed’s comment here:
Just now of course no one knows very well what genes control what behavior, or whether all behavior is genetically determined, but this won’t last. Then what? Almost certainly resistance to manipulation will fade as it becomes possible to edit out diseases of genetic origin. This having worked, it will be hard to resist amplifying intelligence. Then…if there are genes for psychopathy, well…I mean, do we really need Ted Bundys? And we are off and running.
Reed is highlighting how it’s a slippery slope. First small changes will be made, then greater changes.
Currently man is becoming increasingly more reliant upon [non-genetic] technology, which can cure all manner of problems, enabling those to reproduce who might not have previously. This is what some call “dysgenics” (also see Idiocracy for IQ concerns). If a society were set up to resist biotech, it would need to consider just how this decline could be balanced without the use of biotech. Perhaps simply talking about it would lead to a voluntary correction, free choice by citizens. My focus tends to be on resisting biotech, not on promoting eugenics.
Conservatives have generally feared eugenics, with good reason. Biotech is seen by some as a sort of humane eugenics, especially now since transhumanists today tend to put their hopes in corporations, not governments.
So, why is it bad? Well, I recommend the reader complete Reed’s article, linked above. Then you’ll more readily follow how the threat is perfect and permanent moral relativity. It’s the completion of the French Revolution, the perfection of a faith of Reason. For a conservative, such is a nightmare. For a liberal, it’s a dream where all of the horrors of the past can be destroyed, forgotten, to make way for a new utopia: Man can finally replace God.
We already see how Darwinism is widely embraced; Creationism is seen almost on par with Flat Earth. So, I don’t really expect understanding on the threat.
But I am glad to see a thoughtful article by Reed on the matter.