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UK News

Designer babies: Christians warned not to 'misuse' the bible to reject scientific advances

Analysis published in the medical ethics journal Bioethics has claimed the risks involved in gene modification are now low enough to warrant its use with human embryos.

Writing in the journal, Dr Kevin Smith says an "ethically-sound attempt" could be less than two years away.

Researchers from Abertay University in Dundee said research in this area would offer hope to parents at risk of transmitting serious genetic disease to their future children.

Recent studies show that genetic modification is the only way to deal with multiple disease-associated genes within an embryo.

Dr Trevor Stammers from the Christian Medical Fellowship told Premier the medical development isn't as extreme as some might think.

"Changing genes in people who carry diseases is one thing," Stammers said.

"Designer babies, which conjures up being able to choose children who are good at the violin and are going to win the Olympics is a totally different matter which is light-years away."

When asked whether he viewed the practice as unethical, Stammers urged Christians not to use the expression "playing God" too flippantly.

"I think the phrase has been used wrongly by Christians to condemn every medical advance.

"We need to be very careful about misusing biblical verses to pre-empt things that we just feel uncomfortable about," he added.

Although Stammers does not have any moral objection to gene-modification in the womb he says he's concerned by the lack of research into the long term implications.

"Our understanding of how the genetics work is still at an early stage," he said, "So, I think this article is jumping the gun a bit."

Stammers does however voice caution over the ethics of gene selection before an embryo is created, saying: "Where we truly will be playing God is if we start selecting sperm and eggs or the very early fused embryo and start interfering with that, because then we will be discriminating between the creation of the individual that would have resulted and creating a new individual."

He went on to say that creating individuals free from particular disabilities discriminates against those who are not able bodied and sends a message that they are "not wanted" within today's society.

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