October 4, 2013

Hold The Pickles, Hold The Lettuce--BABIES!

Remember, the catchy old Burger King commercial about "Have it your way"(where you can order the burger any way you want, no problem!)?

Now, we are reaching the point with DNA testing, where we can have it your way and order up babies the way you want them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, by getting genetic profiles of egg or sperm donors, you can search for a match with the genetic profile of the would-be parent to have a higher likelihood of desired traits (e.g. blue eyes) or lower likelihood of undesirable ones (e.g. heart disease). 

23andMe, a DNA company (Note: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes) that sells home testing kits for $99, has patented a process for analyzing DNA and providing information on health and ancestry, and this could be used for system screening of egg or sperm donors through a tool called a "Family Traits Inheritance calculator."

Calculating better babies by choosing desired matches at fertility clinics is only steps away from actually making marriage decisions based on genetic make-up--in that scenario love is only one factor in choosing a mate and maybe not the primary any longer. 

The idea being to screen potential couples before marriage to yield "the best" potential children--smartest, athletic, good-looking, etc. 

There are already genetic banks for screening and capturing genetic information on potential couples to avoid genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and others. 

While bioengineering children for better health is one thing, creating a blue-eye and blond-haired race was the Nazi's concept of an Aryan nation as a superior race that would dominate the world. 

The ethical questions of how to screen out illness without creating a situation like in China under a one-child policy, where male offspring are considered superior and so we proverbially tilt the odds in favor of what we think is best even if it may not really be. 

Neither a homogeneous superior race, nor a customized bioengineered baby is the answer--rather, we need to value healthy diversity in children, where each is a miracle and a blessing in their own right. ;-)

No comments: