Designer Babies are here

February 26, 2009

Slashdot | Designer Babies

“The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life’s savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries. Like it or not, the era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back.”

This brings whole new meaning to the notion of adaptive design. Now how about designer parents please? Here’s the full article and a link to their evil web site.

Ok, even if we do put aside the whole issue of the evils of gender selection and inconvenient disabilities, eugenics is just plain evil and stupid. It is a cultural form of short sighted hubris. It is a form of mono-cropping that will surely be detrimental. Challenges lead to innovative thinking, and innovative thinking is good. Although, here’s a thought. Set up a company like this, and whenever parents come, put them on a list for removal from the gene pool. I’m not talking about people who have very specific healthcare risks that they don’t want to pass down to their children unnecessarily… that’s a different issue. People who want designer babies have perhaps lost an understanding of the value of bio-diversity, and perhaps represent a danger to the survival of our species as much as any other eugenics enthusiast.

3 Responses to “Designer Babies are here”

  1. Aryan master race now achievable via test tube! The Nazis would have loved this.

  2. If it’s not modification, then it’s certainly nothing new. People have been selecting for favored traits ever since the human species existed. And Nick, why do you think that everyone would choose the same traits? You forget to account for randomization, and maybe people just want to select for genes long lost in the family, like red hair or something. Furthermore, the Nazis would have hated this because it means that brown-haired parents, even two african-caucasian parents contain the genes to select for a blonde baby, which renders notions of racial purity obsolete. Therefore, this technology will actually increase the shared sense of genetic diversity within society than the other way around. By fearing the loss of genetic diversity, you’re implicitly saying that one hair or eye color is superior, because you think everyone would select for it. While the truth is that parents are all different, and randomization will even out any population changes.

  3. If there was any chance that parents were wise and ethical… and would be immune from fashion, taste and cultural tradition, there might be some support to your assertion. Genetic modification over many generations is nice and messy, but there are clear indications that most cultures will reduce the complexity of their gene pool given the option, and there’s no indication that parents will, in significant numbers, increase it. And governments have proven, since the institutionalization of cultural experience, the desire to standardize their populations. You may want genetic modifications. Fine. But there’s no support for the notion that this will be good for the species as a whole.