Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Perfect Babies
Name: Jonnette
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
I am writing a research paper on genetic engineering, specifically, creating the perfect baby. I have used infotrack at the local library but it is difficult obtaining information on this topic. Do you have a any sources available on this topic? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.



Replies:
You might try beginning work on your paper by defining exactly what you mean by a 'perfect' baby. Will this be your definition, or your class's definition, or society's definition, or will some other group decide what is the 'perfect' baby. You might speak with your local librarian for assistance in researching the topic 'genetic engineering'.

Ric (rickru)


Answer 2: Three kinds of genetic engineering exist. The most active kind, what most people think of when they hear "genetic engineering" is presently done mostly with bacteria: you actually snip a chromosome out of somewhere else (or you build it in a test tube) and then you insert it into the cell and change its characteristics. The most advanced form of this I know of is an experimental treatment for cystic fibrosis in humans. You can also genetic engineer simply by breeding selectively, and this has been done for millennia. The domestic pig, cow, dog, etc. are very different from their wild ancestors because of this. People breed selectively as well, albeit somewhat haphazardly when left to their own devices. If you look up the practice of "eugenics" you will find out about people who want to breed people deliberately, e.g. try to breed high blood pressure out of the race. The third form of genetic engineering is similar, and consists mostly of aborting embryos that from testing in the womb have disastrous or sometimes merely unwanted genes. Many pregnant white women over the age of 35 are tested by amniocentesis for Down's syndrome, a genetic deformity of the embryo that can cause profound mental retardation. Testing for cystic fibrosis, an extremely unpleasant genetic disease, is probably also done. In the near future the main form of genetic engineering is likely to be of this sort, testing for birth defects, which afflict at present about 4% of births, a percentage that is rising as women bear children later. The major social debates are therefore likely to be linked to abortion.

Christopher Grayce



Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory