All will be happy to know that a goal of Dr. Robert G. Edwards is to open a multitude of clinics in the “developing” countries of the world for the purpose of offering low cost in vitro fertilization to people there. When hearing this in an interview with Dr. Edwards on National Public Radio this past week, my first thought was “Say What?”. For those who do not know, Dr. Edwards is the 2010 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in the development of in vitro fertilization techniques. Simply, this is conception of human embryos in a glass laboratory dish. In science terms, his work has been outstanding.
The question I have is more about the goal of his low cost in vitro fertilization foundation in the third world. In clear words, he wants to help birth more babies in countries that already are over populated and have continuing high birth rates. He wants more babies in countries with oppressive poverty, malnutrition, and who have already overwhelmed natural resources. He wants more babies in countries that experience high death rates of young and old for lack of food and water. I am thinking he must be crazy!
A scientist has the responsibility to think about the consequences of his/her actions, not just discover knowledge. What Dr. Robert Edwards proposes is almost unthinkable and should be loudly condemned. Demographers already believe world population which now is about 6.5 billion will reach 12 to 15 billion before possibly leveling. The strain on the resources of the planet already is crystal clear. Check out for yourself the state of fisheries, soils, timber, wildlife, and maybe biggest of all, water, on the planet. All are stressed and being used at over sustainable levels. We do have a responsibility to our children and grand children. Providing easier ways to produce more people surely is the height of selfishness and egotism.