Why we don’t have to worry about ‘designer babies’: Altering intelligence is too hard

1-21-2019 baby
Image credit: Inside the Brain
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

One of the main worries that the public has about CRISPR is that it could be used to create “designer babies” with increased levels of intelligence. In the worst-case scenario, it could give an unfair advantage to parents who can afford to upgrade their offspring. Indeed, a Pew survey of US residents in July 2018 found their biggest worry was that CRISPR “will only be available to the wealthy.”

They needn’t worry, said three top gene-editing scientists this week. Intelligence is too complex to engineer and that’s a good thing, they say, since it “may ultimately save us from the hazards of humanity’s hubris.”

We have linked more than a thousand genes to IQ or how far a person gets in school. Right now, scientists don’t know what those genes do, and what’s more, gene-editing tools aren’t yet up to the job of tailoring an embryo’s genes at so many locations.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Afraid of GMOs, CRISPR? Here's the science that could change your mind

Opinion polls show that most people are okay with using it to wipe out disease mutations. But only about 20% think using it for “enhancement”—specifically, trying to increase the intelligence of offspring—is a good idea.

Luckily for scientists, they don’t have to tell us whether they think increasing intelligence is good or bad. It’s not possible, they say, so don’t worry about it. Just kick that can into the future.

Read full, original post: We won’t use CRISPR to make super-smart babies—but only because we can’t

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