World’s First GM Babies Born


The world’s first geneticallymodified humans have been created, it was revealed last night.

The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics.

So far, two of the babies have been tested and have been found to contain genes from three ‘parents’.

Fifteen of the children were born in the past three years as a result of one experimental programme at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey.

The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilised in an attempt to enable them to conceive.

Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year- old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults –two women and one man.

The fact that the children have inherited the extra genes and incorporated them into their ‘germline’ means that they will, in turn, be able to pass them on to their own offspring.

Altering the human germline – in effect tinkering with the very make-up of our species – is a technique shunned by the vast majority of the world’s scientists.

Geneticists fear that one day this method could be used to create new races of humans with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.

Writing in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers, led by fertility pioneer Professor Jacques Cohen, say that this ‘is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children’.

Some experts severely criticised the experiments. Lord Winston, of the Hammersmith Hospital in West London, told the BBC yesterday: ‘Regarding the treat-ment of the infertile, there is no evidence that this technique is worth doing . . . I am very surprised that it was even carried out at this stage. It would certainly not be allowed in Britain.’

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: ‘One has tremendous sympathy for couples who suffer infertility problems. But this seems to be a further illustration of the fact that the whole process of in vitro fertilisation as a means of conceiving babies leads to babies being regarded as objects on a production line.

‘It is a further and very worrying step down the wrong road for humanity.’ Professor Cohen and his colleagues diagnosed that the women were infertile because they had defects in tiny structures in their egg cells, called mitochondria.

They took eggs from donors and, using a fine needle, sucked some of the internal material – containing ‘healthy’ mitochondria – and injected it into eggs from the women wanting to conceive.

Because mitochondria contain genes, the babies resulting from the treatment have inherited DNA from both women. These genes can now be passed down the germline along the maternal line.

A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates ‘assisted reproduction’ technology in Britain, said that it would not license the technique here because it involved altering the germline.

Jacques Cohen is regarded as a brilliant but controversial scientist who has pushed the boundaries of assisted reproduction technologies.

He developed a technique which allows infertile men to have their own children, by injecting sperm DNA straight into the egg in the lab.

Prior to this, only infertile women were able to conceive using IVF. Last year, Professor Cohen said that his expertise would allow him to clone children –a prospect treated with horror by the mainstream scientific community.

‘It would be an afternoon’s work for one of my students,’ he said, adding that he had been approached by ‘at least three’ individuals wishing to create a cloned child, but had turned down their requests.

24 Comments on World’s First GM Babies Born

  1. Bobbye Eachus // October 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm //

    Science is a tool. Used well it is good. Used poorly not so much.
    Media is a tool. I perceive and feel the same about it and its applications. I trust there is a greater tapestry that we are ALL apart of. One century’s heretics are the next century’s fore fathers of progress.

    Good on ‘em. We have had solutions to devastating and cruel diseases, energy that is cost effective and available, and the mighty ideas of currency, economy, power, personal, social advancement hobble the process. Many times in the name of moral right or wrong usually based on mythology and current religious mores.

    The social problems today fade to obscurity as health, advancement and abundance become available to more of the population.

    Thank you to authors like Robert A Heinlein and Issac Assimov who developed generations of great thinkers to TRY anyway.

  2. Tally Youngblood // July 5, 2012 at 9:40 am //

    Millions of people are in the world. You kill one, people don’t care unless they’re famous. You can kill a chicken for food and you won’t care (unless it’s famous?). Studying this is very important because in 120 more years, people could care less.

  3. Pyritie // July 4, 2012 at 11:50 am //

    I thought mitochondria only contained the genes to produce other mitochondria?

  4. Mike Ross // July 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm //

    No, they weren’t ‘genetically modified\'; they had defective *mitochondrial* DNA replaced by donor mitochondria. This story is a textbook example of something written by those who don’t understand the science, to appease the prejudice of those who also don’t understand the science.

    I am adopted and my mum would have loved nothing else than to have given birth to her own child, but becuase of selfish people such as the ones who say this kinda technology is wrong…we have not been able to give ppor women like my mum the chance to have their own kid.

    Yeah true the only reason i have such a wonderful mum is becuase this kind of techonolgy doesntexist but id rather she had her own kid than go through the painful process of adopting me

  6. Therase // July 2, 2012 at 3:37 am //

    Very strange…wrong, wrong and wrong…Misguided performance to the core of humanity…an afternoons work hey! the ego drives this behavior and has made the biggest error in judgement.

  7. Michelle // July 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm //

    I FULLY agree with your comment. Although I can understand a woman wanting her own children with her own DNA, a child that wants to be loved and just wants a family to love back should take priority over everything else! If these people are sooooo concerned about the ‘unborn’, what steps are they taking to protect the already living????? I just don’t get it! I’m ALL for adoption and I personally would rather adopt than have my own children for the simple fact that there are people who were not so fortunate to be adopted by good families and wound up in horrible circumstances due to the selfishness of people like the above mentioned in the article. UGH, the madness of it all!!!! I’m just glad to read that you were one of te fortunate ones.

  8. This is horrific and very, very scary. It is playing God and no matter how hard anyone tries, they cannot dispute this fact. Think of what the world could become if this was mainstreamed. I honestly hope that myself, my husband, and my children are dead before that happens. I fear for our generations to come. People could possibly cease to exist as we know them today. Very, very scary and wrong.

  9. David Ahrentz // June 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm //

    What is so wrong with this anyways as long as you make sure the babies are born healthy and not the other way around.

  10. Why is it that big of a deal? This is good for people who cant have kids of they’re own… how is that being selfish? I understand things are a certain way but open your eyes! things are not getting better by the way we are doing things now, maybe its time for something new. I welcome the testing with open arms and wish all of whom are involved good luck in your studies.

  11. It’s hardly the people who would go through this much trouble who are guilty of overpopulation. It sounds like his work is excellently progressive. I have a graduate education in the USA, and steps towards direct intervention and selection of desired skills in the birthing process would be fantastic!

  12. Athrun Zala // June 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm //

    The coordinator is the way of the future.
    We’re going to take revenge for what you naturals did to Heliopolis.

  13. Totally 100% agree with you here Jess… I don’t think these ppl look ahead to the future of the individuals lives their playing with nor the human race as we are designed… and only genetically modifying it is playing with fire in the longterm….. Foolish…

  14. Brain in a jar // June 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm //

    Anemia, Huntington’s, Downs Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and many other genetic disorders can be avoided by using this technique and genetically screening the resulting egg. So it’s not ‘selfish’ to want the happiest and healthiest life for your children.

    The fact of the matter is that any parents that could afford this kind of treatment are the ones who should be having kids in the first place. Why should they have to perpetuate the cycle of “moms and dads who don’t give a shit” by raising one of the little shitheads themslves? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and frankly the tree needs to be cut down and the fruit composted, because no-one wants either.

    Altering the germline also isn’t “shunned” it simply isn’t accepted as an ethical procedure by most governments and religious groups. There’s a difference between not being allowed to study something and shunning it.

  15. So you have gotten yourself sterilized and are only adopting and fostering children, right?

  16. “This is the most disturbing and disgusting thing I’ve ever heard! Shame on those who made this study and shame on those who took part in it!! This is pure selfishness at its very core!”

    SHAME on you Jess! There is nothing more selfless than wanting to give the give to LIFE! To raise a child and to give it EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!!! How do you think the people feel who can’t give birth because of rape at an early age, because of a disease, because of a defect? Shame on you for being so cold, for being so SELFISH. For wanting to keep people from giving the beautiful gift of life. You are truly an evil person with no self awareness.

  17. this is absolutely wrong! children should not be guinea pigs, ever.

  18. This isn’t really “altering the germ line” – this is the addition of different mitochondrial DNA to an egg. The children would have the regular chromosomal makeup from the mother and father, and mitochondrial DNA from the donor. Mitochondrial DNA is not involved in human reproduction, mitochondria are separate organelles with different DNA within our own cells.

  19. Al Keller // June 30, 2012 at 2:37 am //

    This guy who is doing this must be some kind of relation to Hitler that is what he wanted. Lock this Dr. up on an Island by himself and make sure he can not get off

  20. I need more details before I form any real opinion on it. Definitely not so keen on the idea of GMing humans, but the potential for eradicating genetic disorders is interesting.

  21. Well said. I agree completely.

  22. Fantasha // June 29, 2012 at 3:33 am //

    All I think is, what is the world coming to? First we mess with our food and now babies. I am scared for my daughters and what world they will live in.

  23. Maureen Thielens // June 29, 2012 at 2:30 am //

    Wonderful but scary. Never knew what could come. from taking a bite from the Tree of Knowledge

  24. This is the most disturbing and disgusting thing I’ve ever heard! Shame on those who made this study and shame on those who took part in it!! This is pure selfishness at its very core! While pregnancy and child rearing is something beautiful, its a fact of life some women are just not able to conceive. And to balance that out, there are just as many moms and dads who don’t give a shit about their kids or can’t care for them and they are in foster care, or sitting in an adoption centre waiting for that perfect family. I was one of the lucky ones who got adopted early, but some aren’t that fortunate. Some children grow up to be 18 and released without knowing what a real family is. Stop giving people excuses to overpopulate the world, and give the children already born and waiting for a home, a family to call their own. Kudos to the British for having a head on their shoulders and realizing how wrong this is!

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