Segments in this Video

Gene Editing (01:49)


Moderator John Donvan reflects on the science and ethics of gene editing technology.

Debate "Housekeeping" (01:50)

Donvan instructs viewers to vote, provides the framework for the debate on gene editing to make better babies, and introduces panelists.

Opening Statements For: George Church (04:45)

Professor of Genetics and Personal Genome Founder, Church states that using gene editing to make better babies means making them healthier. He cites examples of editing already occurring. We should encourage carefully regulated clinical trials on gene editing to prevent childhood disease.

Opening Statements Against: Marcy Darnovsky (04:46)

Center for Genetics and Society Executive Director, Darnovsky believes heritable gene editing places babies at risk and exacerbates issues of social and economic inequality. There is no medical reason for reproductive gene editing; use gene editing for people who are sick.

Opening Statements For: Amy Webb (05:04)

Futurist and Author, Webb states that humanity is living through an inflection point. She cites three reasons why we should further develop genetic technology. There is no way to predict the future, but we should not wildly speculate about what might happen.

Opening Statements Against: Françoise Baylis (04:35)

Philosopher and Author, Baylis wants a robust definition of the word "better." She does not believe it is wise to use time and talent on making better babies when the scientific community's resources are limited. There is no right to have genetically related children.

Haves and Have Nots (05:03)

Baylis argues that many people cannot get access to basic healthcare, and we cannot rely on safety and efficacy. Church counters that there are economic and global benefits to gene therapies. Darnovsky believes terms need to be clearer.

Government Regulation and Inequality (08:58)

Webb states that opportunity comes through thoughtful use, regulation, and frameworks. Baylis argues that there is diversity between countries regarding genome editing technology. Panelists disagree about whether gene editing would exacerbate inequality.

Gene Editing: World Market (04:20)

Church states that if one nation leads, others will follow; inaction is not a foolproof strategy. Baylis discusses wants versus needs and moral obligation.

Gene Editing and Alzheimer's (03:05)

Church reflects on intelligence and outcomes versus mechanisms. Baylis recalls her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's and questions what it means to be better.

Closing Statements For: Church (01:57)

Church clarifies somatic and germline. All of us, since 1978, are enhanced with respect to smallpox. There are reasons to use gene editing to make healthier babies.

Closing Statements Against: Darnovsky (02:15)

What do "better babies" look like? Imagine a world where newborns are labeled by their DNA as better or not better; the wealthy will purchase genetic privileges. Use gene editing to treat people who are sick.

Closing Statements For: Webb (02:52)

The debate is about improving health, not designer babies. We can prevent a dystopian future with safe, ethical, and planned editing within boundaries. We need to look to alternative futures with pragmatism.

Closing Statements Against: Baylis (02:33)

Think about the current world and the world of the future built by technology; the scientific community has limited resources. Humanity is fallible and we need to embrace diversity and tolerance.

Debate Voting (01:59)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks participants, and explains how viewers can support Intelligence Squared.

Credits: Use Gene Editing to Make Better Babies: A Debate (00:09)

Credits: Use Gene Editing to Make Better Babies: A Debate

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Use Gene Editing to Make Better Babies: A Debate

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Suppose a genetic disorder that can cause disease runs in your family. Your doctor tells you that, should you wish to have a child, that child is likely to get the disease. But CRISPR, a new gene-editing technology, could change your fate by ensuring that your baby is—and remains—healthy. Even more, it could potentially guarantee that your grandchildren are also free of the disorder. What do you do? Now, suppose it's not a genetic disorder that you are trying to change, but some other quality, such as eye color, cognitive ability, or athletic skill. Do you opt into this new world of genetically edited humans? And what if it's not just you? What if your friends, neighbors, and peers are also embracing this genetic revolution? Right now, science doesn't give you that choice. But huge advancements in CRISPR technology are making human gene editing a reality. In 2018, a Chinese scientist announced the first genetically modified babies: twin girls whose genes had been altered to resist HIV, smallpox, and malaria. The promise of this technology is clear, and supporters argue that it can be used to eliminate diseases, improve human health, and create a better world. But gene editing is not without its perils and unknowns, and critics argue that it meddles with the most basic aspect of our humanity and could both exacerbate inequality and pressure all parents (and nations) into editing their children's genes to stay competitive. Should gene editing be used to make better babies?

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL278870

Copyright date: ©2022

Closed Captioned

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