By reading the topics of DIY - Biology and Synthetic Biology, I deepened my understanding of ethics in the field of biology.

DIY - Biology:

Do it yourself biology started around 2008. Probably, as a result of the declining costs for DNA-sequencing. Its principles are sharing, openness, decentralization and world improvement. DIY - biology enables the public to discuss  issues, which normally are mainly discussed by ethicists. Thus, the public opinion receives a voice through the hands-on approach of DIY - biology.

For example, a workshop organized by the Waag Society was able to raise  a lot of ethical questions. Participants were engaged in the production of in vitro meat. In 2016, it was not a completely animal-friendly product, as it included a bovine calf serum in order to make the stem cells grow. If this serum was replaced by a vegetable, would it still be real meat or rather  artificial soulless meat?

Still, some concerns arise regarding DIY-biology. If a Guardian Journalist was able to order genetic sequences from dangerous pathogens, the underlying question was who else may have? It’s quite concerning if everyone can use tools for genome assembly.

Synthetic biology:

Nowadays, one can avoid the birth of a baby with an undesired sex, if it has a sex-linked disease or a specific health related genetic condition. New technologies can target specific DNA fragments and remove or replace specific DNA fragments. This technique could make it possible to design a desired baby. For example, it would be possible to influence  its artistic or musical ability, its intelligence, sports abilities or even to avoid depressions or aggressions.

Should parents have the right to change their child’s genetic information in order to get their desired and in their point of view best possible life for their child?

Considering that behavior and personality are not totally depending on the genetics. Even if intelligence is seen as something positive, it does not  mean that more will be necessarily better for that person. Furthermore, the child has no guarantee that it will develop a certain talent due to its genetics, as it has to be practiced. It would surely change our society as it is today. One could imagine that in the future you will be able to buy talent for your desired child.

References:

Balmer & Martin, Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges, Institure for Science and Society University of Notthingham, 2012

Robischen, The Ethics of Crispr, Fast Company, 2017

Keulartz & van den Belt, DIY-Bio - economic, epistemological and ethical implications and ambivalences, 2016

Levitt, Would you edit your unborn child’s genes so they were successful?, the guardian, 2015