The birth of Louise Brown in 1978 marked the world’s first birth of a test tube baby. As of yesterday, about 5 million more test tube babies have been born worldwide with assistance from in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and other reproductive technologies.
Rising Number of Test Tube Babies
The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART) based these numbers on numbers of IVF and ICSI treatment cycles recorded up to 2008 across the globe, adjusted for estimates of 2009 through 20011. Europe, Japan, and the US lead the trend of making reproductive technologies mainstream, with almost 1,000 cycles per million people available in Europe. The practice of IVF and ICSI has become so efficient as to stabilize at about 32 percent pregnancy rate per embryo transfer.
On the surface, this is good news for infertile couples and individuals. At least 30 of these test tube babies, however, have been genetically modified. (Why, with all the booing of GM foods, scientists would think GM people would be okay is beyond us.)
Turning People into Guinea Pigs
Recently, we covered the Daily Mail’s developing story of the world’s first genetically modified babies. Two of the babies carry genes from 3 parents—2 women and 1 man—an unprecedented DNA makeup for all of humanity. The births would not have been possible without recently advanced reproductive technology.
This is admittedly not the first time animals have been genetically modified. Chinese scientists have inserted human stem cells into goat fetuses while American researchers busy themselves trying to construct a mouse with human brain cells. Most notably, four baby monkeys with three genetic parents were born in a US laboratory in 2009, symbolizing hope for an end to incurable genetic diseases, although some researchers speculate a rise in birth defects with continued practice.
What’s making many of us squeamish, of course, is that people are now the guinea pigs. The national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, John Smeaton warns, “It is a further and very worrying step down the wrong road for humanity.”
Imagine: a world where you can raise a disease-free child with three or four genetic parents, engineered to be hyperintelligent with superhuman strength. One wonders what the price tag on that would look like.