Is there anything that mankind cannot do? We beleive that we can control the climate, seed the clouds to bring rain, change the direction of hurricanes or change their direction, and of couse we can clone animals. Ah, but why stop there? Why don't we decide what sort of an offspring we'd like. Why not decide what sort of a "designer child" one would like bfore jumping in the sack? Why not?
A Los Angeles clinic says it will soon help couples select both gender and physical traits in a baby when they undergo a form of fertility treatment. The clinic, Fertility Institutes, says it has received "half a dozen" requests for the service, which is based on a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. Want a daughter with blond hair, green eyes and pale skin? Coming right up!
For a fee: a large fee too! :-)
While PGD has long been used for the medical purpose of averting life-threatening diseases in children, the science behind it has quietly progressed to the point that it could potentially be used to create designer babies. It isn't clear that Fertility Institutes can yet deliver on its claims of trait selection. But the growth of PGD, unfettered by any state or federal regulations in the U.S., has accelerated genetic knowledge swiftly enough that pre-selecting cosmetic traits in a baby is no longer the stuff of science fiction.
Step right up and tell us what you want and presto, we can do it!
"It's technically feasible and it can be done," says Mark Hughes, a pioneer of the PGD process and director of Genesis Genetics Institute, a large fertility laboratory in Detroit. However, he adds that "no legitimate lab would get into it and, if they did, they'd be ostracized." But Fertility Institutes disagrees. "This is cosmetic medicine," says Jeff Steinberg, director of the clinic that is advertising gender and physical trait selection on its Web site. "Others are frightened by the criticism but we have no problems with it."
PGD is a technique whereby a three-day-old embryo, consisting of about six cells, is tested in a lab to see if it carries a particular genetic disease. Embryos free of that disease are implanted in the mother's womb. Introduced in the 1990s, it has allowed thousands of parents to avoid passing on deadly disorders to their children. But PGD is starting to be used to target less-serious disorders or certain characteristics, such as a baby's gender, that aren't medical conditions. The next controversial step is to select physical traits for cosmetic reasons.
In a recent U.S. survey of 999 people who sought genetic counseling, a majority said they supported prenatal genetic tests for the elimination of certain serious diseases. The survey found that 56% supported using them to counter blindness and 75% for mental retardation. More provocatively, about 10% of respondents said they would want genetic testing for athletic ability, while another 10% voted for improved height. Nearly 13% backed the approach to select for superior intelligence, according to the survey conducted by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine.
With people having children at such advanced ages these days, will Medicare cover this? :-)
As a spiritual-futurist, I have a BA degree majoring in history. One cannot know the future without knowing the past which holds clues to what is on the horizon. The world is in such a rapid expansion of knowledge that we are close to entering a tipping point that will forever change earth as we know it.