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Column Peter van der Heiden - Designer Babies

Designer babies – if only it had been possible to design you own babies instead of having them the natural way some 18 years ago, the moment I started reproducing… Not that I don’t like my children (let’s say they are fine), but think of the possibilities. I could have been able to design (well, let me correct that, I would have been able to let someone else design - because I don’t think it will be possible to design some more brains and possibilities in a lifeform that has been living for over fifty years) – but anyhow, someone could have been able to design my children as the next, well, what would I like them to be?

That’s the problem you get when you are able to design –you have to make decisions. And making decisions, well, that’s not my strong point –not being very good at making decisions is exactly the reason I have children in the first place, especially since their mother turned out to be very good in making decisions.

But imagine having the possibility to decide what your child is going to be. Better, stronger, faster? Well, that sounds a bit too much like the six million dollar man or the bionic woman, tv-series of my youth. Make them more beautiful? That might be a tad to superficial. Smarter? Smarter than whom? And why would you want your child to be smart, if a stable genius like Donald Trump can be President of the United States? Designing more robust humans may be nice, humans that are no longer susceptible to horrible and deadly diseases – but what about the fact that we are already faced with an overcrowded planet. Just think of the problems we get if the new designer humans refuse to die…

In the end, I wouldn’t know what to change if I had the chance to design my own babies. They were great as they were – and they still are. (I would be stupid to say something else, providing there’s always a chance they will be reading this at a time that I desperately need them). On the other hand, if someone put a gun against my head and told me I had to design one new element in the human genome, I think I know exactly what that would be: I would remove the gene that makes it possible for idiotic scientists like that Chines maniac to screw around with human – and other – life, so it wouldn’t be possible to design your own offspring anymore.

- Peter van der Heiden