We have all been produced in the same way from the beginning of time. Sexual relations is how nature works. However as we evolve the method for reproducing can evolve as well. So much so that we may no longer need to have sexual relations to conceive children.
At least this is what Joyce Harper, a professor of the University College of London believes. Almost 40 years after the birth of the first test tube baby and thanks to the development of IVF treatments in recent years, these methods could soon become the main way of having children. Problems of infertility which will become increasingly more prevalent is just one reason that the researcher gives. She also considers that many women are now focusing more on careers meaning they are having children much later in their life. As a result this affects their ovary quality. She also supports the idea that in the future all same sex couples could easily have children of their own.
“In the future women might not even carry their own children”
“There will come a time when the majority of people will not have sex to reproduce,” said the researcher when interviewed by Newsweek. “It could happen that in the future that women no longer need to even carry their children and sex is just had for having fun,” she continued. She noted that by the end of the century more than 150 million people will have been born thanks to artificial insemination techniques like IVF, egg and sperm donors or surrogates.
Limiting the risk of disease
Joyce Harper has even gone further explaining that IVF (In vitro fertilisation) could not only be the norm in a few years time but it could also evaluate the embryos at risk thanks to genetics.
Ms Harper explained that, “What comes to the arena now is called genome editing sequences. It is now possible to sequence someone’s genome for about $1,000, and the technology is actually quite quick—it can be done in about 24 hours, and I think it’ll become even cheaper in the near future.” She continued that, “We could check [if] it’s going to have cancer, predisposed to heart disease, diabetes, even allergies. We could do all of these tests before we even put the embryo back in the woman. Because why would you transfer an embryo back to a woman that it’s going to have a disease?”
A slippery slope
Ethical and health questions are bound to be asked. Only a few months ago a team of researchers from China announced that they had modified the DNA of two newborn twins so that they are resistant to the HIV virus. The scientific community have responded with alarm and it has provoked much debate. Even if we put aside the ethical questions that are undeniably brought up when altering somebody’s live, many other questions are also asked.
In this particular case the twin’s DNA was modified so that they would be immune to HIV. The problems is that the deleted gene CCR5 has many other functions than to simply help limit HIV infections as explained Mazhar Adli in Livescience. This geneticist from the medicine faculty at the University of Virginia, noted the gene’s impact on the effectiveness of white blood cells as an example.
In addition, genes interact constantly with other genes. “The removal of a single gene could not only alter the functioning of other genes, but also the general behavior of the cell and the phenotype of the body,” continued the researcher.
There is no doubt that all these new techniques will have to be judiciously looked at in the future in terms of health and legal situations. But whether it is IVF or gene editing, it appears that these artificial methods will be increasingly used to have children. In 30, 40 or 50 years, conceiving children naturally could then become a thing of the past.