The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Genome editing in a fetus is negative.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 240 times Debate No: 92330
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Genome editing in a fetus is negative, as genetic alterations could basically transform every future newborn in a "perfect" child, basically eliminating beauty. If everyone is beautiful, muscular, athletic and very healthy future generations wouldn't recognise real beauty, as there wouldn't actually BE "ugly" people. Moreover, we all know that if this practice was publicly well seen governments would jump at the occasion of creating an invincible army of soldiers, topic on which I hope we can all agree would be devastating. In addition to this, we would all be able to live up to be 200 years old, increasing drastically overpopulation.

Lastly, I'd like to dedicate some words to the religious among the audience. Most religions believe their God, or Gods, have created us the way we are for a specific reason. Genome editing would surely be helpful to reduce life shortening diseases, however reading lots of articles I noticed that a lot of kids who's parents DIDN'T correct their genome were happier to be disabled than "customized", as this would totally eliminate any unique trait of a person.
A recent study made blind people see again after an operation made them very depressed. Some of them even commit suicide, as it was too big of a change. When we don't feel appreciated we would all like to be the most perfect being, but making this reality would create the base level where everyone is perfect, which would become a paradox.

I would like to apologize if my English isn't the best, as I'm not English.


I shall be arguing that it would not be a negative, which is to say it would either balance out, or be positive.

Free Will
Parents make medical choices for their children constantly. Circumcision for example, ear piercings another, which school to attend, etc. No one contests these are rights of the parents to decide what they think is best for their offspring, so long as it is not evidenced to be direct harm. Not doing certain things has been proven to be direct harm, which gets children taken away and/or parents thrown in prison. To willingly cause your child to die horribly rather than get proven medical treatments is in simple terms evil; a recent case of this a set of parents decided if Maple-Syrup didn't work it was better if the child died horribly of meningitis [1].

The arguments against improving the genome of a person, closely mirror the arguments against common vaccines. Both are changing people for their own benefit, as well as that of society [2, cue YouTube Video]. This debate is specifically dealing with unborn children, so imagine with a single visit to the doctor during pregnancy you could make the child completely immune to various incurable (and often fatal) diseases; that is a serious net benefit (if questioned I'll pull stats on them). The murderous couple from my first source could even have had their children altered so that Maple-Syrup would be enough, making children comparable with the life-styles to be forced upon them, rather than die slowly and painfully.

Altering genes would not eliminate beauty, as many things we regard as ugly are not genetic. There is no fat gene that makes fat no matter how little they eat, nor a strong gene that replaces the gym. Professional athletes will still have to work for it, even the ones who take shortcuts (steroids) still work for it (even if slightly less hard). To be beautiful for any non-mental standard, we will still have to work for it.

"Invincible Army"
The countries which enslave children to fight their wars, are incapable of even mass produced vaccination programs when those are outright offered to them, let alone advanced complex individualized genetic engineering. The rest of the world morally would not. Genetic engineering can be viewed as good, while slavery remains unacceptable.

There exists no shortage of land. We actively choose to live in overpopulated areas. If anything genetic engineering could fix our instincts to steer us away from such poor decision making.

"God, or Gods, have created us the way we are for a specific reason"
See source [1] for how horrible that already gets when parents hate their children so much.

"Blind People"
Irrelevant. This debate is not about fixing adults who are currently blind.

[2] YouTube
Debate Round No. 1


I saw that some of my arguments aren't very well exposed.
First of all, I didn't talk about beauty as being skinny or athletic, as there is a lot of controversy, due to the fact that everyone taste is different. If everyone could have their facial genes modified, which is possible, facial beauty would be impossible to achieve, and this is why. It is scientifically proved that the more one's facial features are "normal". the more he/she is beautiful. Ugliness is given by the abnormality of facial feature. Since this is scientifically proved there is no point in arguing about someone's taste for facial beauty.
Second, there could be a strength gene involved. Just read this article:
Moreover, cloning, another "brother" of genome modification, could lead to abnormally powerful people. Animal genes can in fact be used with human genes to create hybrids, as this article states:
I know this is a stupid example, but imagine if there were people with the ability of protecting themselves with armadillo like shells. That would be devastating. I wanted to spend some words on your rebuttal which states that "The countries which enslave children to fight their wars...". Wait, I never mentioned slavery. I just mentioned how genome editing could lead to GMO soldiers. I didn't even say that Third World countries wouldn't be able to afford them. Obviously, if a country like Uganda or Nigeria fought against a country like the US or the UK now they would lose instantly, let alone if the richer countries, US and UK, have an advantage of almost immortal soldiers.
You also talked about the case in which a Canadian newborn died because of his parents not treating him, to rebut my religious referral. I would like to further talk about the case. If God let the newborn die, maybe the newborn's purpose was to die, because his parents would then be jailed. If the baby hadn't died because of that, such conservative parents would have probably made him go through even tougher times than not even realise he died.
Another argument I would like to talk about is my blind people statement. I do not find it irrelevant, as genome editing made the people able to see. I could however see some irrelevance in the statement, I hoped it would have supported and showed my position better.
"Free Will"
I am certainly sure that parents haven't acquainted their fetus yet, so why should they take life-changing decisions for their baby? Choosing the babie's future school is an irrelevant statement. There's definitely a difference between the two circumstances. Imagine if Sam Berns's parents could have cured his progeria when he was a fetus. Surely one of the world's youngest activists wouldn't have existed, as he would have chosen another lifestyle. Also, the progeria research foundation his parents established after his death would have made progeria impossible to cure in first place.
I must admit I didn't fully understand this argument, but I understood that my opponent thinks that being able to cure diseases with vaccines is the same as modifing genes. If a newborn could become immune to a lot of diseases with vaccines, how would we be able to implant genes that make us immune to a disease. Vaccines are small doses of inactive virus that help our body produce anticorps against it. How does that make vaccines similar to geonome editing. If I had to edit the human genome why would I permanently implant a virus in a fetus. Research is fundamental when stating an argument.


Burden of Proof
You have the Burden of Proof to show (rather than just infer) that it would be a negative. You've raised some interesting questions about how it might turn out, but have yet to show any clear negatives assured to happen. You have rather decided to show some good reasons for it.

Doing this mostly by order or reply.

The original claim dealt with "eliminating beauty," which I showed through simple deductive reasoning to be false. Now you seem to support me with "everyone taste is different," which would lead to no less variety of features than we see today as "everyone" would want their kids to look different. Further unless we are dealing with completely overwriting the existing data, rather than editing it as the resolution deals with most directly, we'd be more dealing with parents modifying their future children from the base template of their own genes, assuring no less variety in pairings than today, as opposed to the next generation all looking like Tom Hiddleston.

If the next generation males looked like him, I am unsure if it'd actually be bad...

Now "If everyone could have their facial genes modified," is an interesting thought to chew on, but this debate is specifically dealing with fetuses, rather than the implications of a more advanced type of plastic surgery for adults.

"Strength Gene"
I previously just included this under the Beauty heading, but as it's continued with a source...

By claim "nor a strong gene that replaces the gym" has not been refuted. The source details something which with exercise can double the rate of returns from exercise, yet that does not replace the gym. No way this would be anything other than a positive has been inferred, the article itself pointed out "the scientists say they have not seen any harmful side effects." As for positives, with regulation this could with minimal effort prevent any child being born with Hypotonia (also called Low Muscle Tone, a sometimes fatal disorder) [3].

Again, no actual negatives have been stated. Even your article itself could not find anything worse than some people don't like the idea of it because circular reasoning, even while those same people enjoy the benefits of medical advances. As your article stated: "The reason for doing these experiments is to understand more about early human development and come up with ways of curing serious diseases."

You've of course come up with a perceived negative, but have not listed any actual reason it is negative even if it hypothetically went that far: "imagine if there were people with the ability of protecting themselves with armadillo like shells. That would be devastating." Again just the worry of people "protecting themselves," which in no way bridges the gap to being "devastating."

"GMO Soldiers"
This debate topic was over changing fetuses rather than adults. Since you insist your talk of soldiers excludes slavery (modifying unborn children then raising them as weapons), I am really unsure where you're going with this, beyond inferring we can fix and/or prevent the health problems suffered by our veterans (at least in first world countries).

"God, or Gods, have created us the way we are for a specific reason"
Firstly no evidence has been submitted to imply God exists. If God coincidently exists, no way genome editing is against his will has been implied. But since you've picked this up again with "If God let the newborn die, maybe the newborn's purpose was to die." By the logic of that, if God (presuming he exists) makes children sick in ways preventable with genome editing, we are guided to do that (like Noah building the Ark instead of letting his family drown). If God then allows us to make said edits (or build said Ark, or purify drinking water, etc.), it is most clearly God's will.

All that said, I don't see religion as particularly relevant to this medical debate.

Sam Berns
As you've stated, if his ailment did not exist "he would have chosen another lifestyle." Saying people should die of preventable illnesses to raise awareness for an illness that has no reason to exist, is akin to saying people should kill themselves to raise awareness about suicide even if they are not depressed. You've listed a fatal genetic disorder in your case, as if people dying of it is a good thing which must be protected.

An illness preventable with genome editing.

The point of bringing them up was to show a highly comparable medical issue, for example a vaccine against some potentially fatal virus, or a minor genetic improvement against premature heart attacks. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute has developed a shot against heart attacks with reduces their occurrences by "40 to 90 percent" [4]. Even the conservative Fox News agrees with the significant benefits, such as eliminating sickle cell, leukemia, HIV, muscular dystrophy; all for a trade off of such minor problems as "one day stop parents from passing inherited diseases to their children" [5]. I know, in such a world Sam Berns could not consent to not dying horribly at a young age, but given the clear benefits of life prospects longer than 13 (the average age of death for those with his illness), I think that's a sacrifice most people in his position would be willing make.


Debate Round No. 2


Kikuzzo forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments.

In review, the pro side "[has] yet to show any clear negatives assured to happen." His own sources have been shown to favor my side of the argument. Even his fall back to God has been refuted. Whereas my side has (in time) no more genetic disorders, and no decrease in beauty/variety.

Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ThinkBig 4 months ago
Con receives the conduct point as pro forfeited the last round.

The debate goes off track quite quickly as pro changes the topic to adults (i.e., GMO soldier). Con's case is that genetic engineering can be positive as it can lead to better lives for children, could leave us immune to diseases, and improve overall quality of life. Pro did not respond to this point.
Posted by Ragnar 4 months ago
I'm very interested in this topic, but if you'd like a different opponent indicate so soon and I'll dissappear.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ThinkBig 4 months ago
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